Where does the responsibility for believability fall?

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Often mechanics in the game are criticized for being too unbelievable. A common example is the "Come and Get It" power, which allowed fighters to pull enemies to them. My question is: how much does the game need to cater to people's sense of believability?

The first thing to note is that when the item in question is something like a power or a specific feat, players can simply choose to not take it. If a group generally agrees that a particular character option makes no sense, then they can simply ignore that option and choose other things instead, as long as there are more believable options available.

This doesn't completely excuse the game from having unbelievable options. If it bothers many players, but one player in the group chooses it, it could affect the group's enjoyment. I think reasonable players should be willing to compromise on things like this, but in extreme cases it could be a major nuisance. It also puts the DM in a bind, because he might be forced to be the "bad guy" and tell one of his players that the thing he is doing that is completely within the rules is damaging the game.

When the unbelievable rule is something built into the core of the game, it is a much greater potential dealbreaker. For instance, although I had no problem with healing in 4e, I can understand people's frustration. It is not a mechanic you can simply opt out of. Another such mechanic would be daily powers on martial classes. Once again, I had no problem, but I can understand how it could really ruin the game for people.

Everybody has a different opinion on what is believable versus what is not. Modular mechanics like spells, powers, and feats are much more easily ignored by a group, so I think the designers should feel free to push things a little bit in those areas. Basic mechanics like a healing system are best handled by having a very believable system, preferably with optional rules for people who prefer other systems.
"So shall it be! Dear-bought those songs shall be be accounted, and yet shall be well-bought. For the price could be no other. Thus even as Eru spoke to us shall beauty not before conceived be brought into Eä, and evil yet be good to have been." - Manwë, High King of the Valar
how much does the game need to cater to people's sense of believability?

Game mechanics effectively represent the 'physics' of the world. I personally feel that believability should be one of the primary goals of the game's core mechanics. Unbelievability can always be added later, but players should not be expected to opt out of unbelievable options that the core mechanics allow.


Basic mechanics like a healing system are best handled by having a very believable system

Although I agree, unrealistically simple healing seems like an integral part of D&D at this point. Truly realistic (and detailed) healing might be more suitable as an add-on now.

I pretty much agree with mvincent here, although I always substitute "consistent" in place of "realistic"; the game world is a place, where the mechanics are the laws of nature. Whether or not those laws are realistic for our own world, I can believe in them just fine as long as they're internally consistent.
The metagame is not the game.
Mechanics as laws of physics/nature will do your head in when you come across a mechanic for managing players in real life - turn order, for example.


Basic mechanics like a healing system are best handled by having a very believable system


You'll still find people who are going to find it unbelievable.

Do you propose a minimisation - some sort of survey to test a sample demographics responces to various mechanics, looking for one that that gets it down to only ~5% of the sample that say 'No way, that healing makes no sense at all!'?

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Only got words in my copy.

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F-111 Interdictor Long (200+ squares) distance ally teleporter. With some warlord stuff. Broken in a plot way, not a power way.

Thought Switch Higher level build that grants upto 14 attacks on turn 1. If your allies play along, it's broken.

Elven Critters Crit op with crit generation. 5 of these will end anything. Broken.

King Fisher Optimized net user.  Moderate.

Boominator Fun catch-22 booming blade build with either strong or completely broken damage depending on your reading.

Very Distracting Warlock Lot's of dazing and major penalties to hit. Overpowered.

Pocket Protector Pixie Stealth Knight. Maximizing the defender's aura by being in an ally's/enemy's square.

Yakuza NinjIntimiAdin: Perma-stealth Striker that offers a little protection for ally's, and can intimidate bloodied enemies. Very Strong.

Chargeburgler with cheese Ranged attacks at the end of a charge along with perma-stealth. Solid, could be overpowered if tweaked.

Void Defender Defends giving a penalty to hit anyone but him, then removing himself from play. Can get somewhat broken in epic.

Scry and Die Attacking from around corners, while staying hidden. Moderate to broken, depending on the situation.

Skimisher Fly in, attack, and fly away. Also prevents enemies from coming close. Moderate to Broken depending on the enemy, but shouldn't make the game un-fun, as the rest of your team is at risk, and you have enough weaknesses.

Indestructible Simply won't die, even if you sleep though combat.  One of THE most abusive character in 4e.

Sir Robin (Bravely Charge Away) He automatically slows and pushes an enemy (5 squares), while charging away. Hard to rate it's power level, since it's terrain dependent.

Death's Gatekeeper A fun twist on a healic, making your party "unkillable". Overpowered to Broken, but shouldn't actually make the game un-fun, just TPK proof.

Death's Gatekeeper mk2, (Stealth Edition) Make your party "unkillable", and you hidden, while doing solid damage. Stronger then the above, but also easier for a DM to shut down. Broken, until your DM get's enough of it.

Domination and Death Dominate everything then kill them quickly. Only works @ 30, but is broken multiple ways.

Battlemind Mc Prone-Daze Protecting your allies by keeping enemies away. Quite powerful.

The Retaliator Getting hit deals more damage to the enemy then you receive yourself, and you can take plenty of hits. Heavy item dependency, Broken.

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Psilent Guardian Protect your allies, while being invisible. Overpowered, possibly broken.

Rune of Vengance Do lot's of damage while boosting your teams. Strong to slightly overpowered.

Charedent BarrageA charging ardent. Fine in a normal team, overpowered if there are 2 together, and easily broken in teams of 5.

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Super Duper Knight Basically the same as super knight with items, making it far more broken.

Mora, the unkillable avenger Solid damage, while being neigh indestuctable. Overpowered, but not broken.

Swordburst Maximus At-Will Close Burst 3 that slide and prones. Protects allies with off actions. Strong, possibly over powered with the right party.

How a thing is conceived really does help the players immersion, I find.  I think that several possible explanations for each mechanic can really help things along here.  Lots of other games do this,  but D&D has become lazy in this regard.

Magical healing, for example.  This really depends of how you think about hit points.  Are they really physical wounds?  Or are hitpoints more of an abstraction that encompasses stamina, vigor and resolve.  I like to think of them as the latter.  This way, you don't have a level 20 barbarian getting shot by 35 arrows in a single game session (this has happened in our group).  Rather than picture it that way.... he has been scraped and bruised and grown tired from dodging etc. etc.  He is not actually wounded in any definitive way until he drops to 0.  That hit, we can imagine, was an actual serious wound, just like bleed effects and the like.  

This way, the healing granted to players by short rests really makes more sense.  Magical healing can be a priest bolstering the resolve of an ally by lending him some of his own, or however you want to see it.  

This is one of the reasons that I have always liked the Wounds/Vitality system (which I am, in essence, duplicating here in terms of flavor).  It makes more sense in game, and helps make a lot of other things seem less flashy, and a bit more gritty. 
There are some areas where verisimilitude makes sense.  How much can a character carry? How fast can he run?  How far can he jump?  (Now, D&D has been really bad at this, and the current encumberance rules are absurd, but at least they try.)

But some mechanics are inherently unrealistic.  Hit Points are the king of unrealism.  It both encourages people to think of fighters as porcupines with dozens of arrows sticking out of their flesh, and that we should have in no way any expectation that all those arrows sticking out of him mean he is slower, less accurate, weaker, fatigued, or suffering blood loss.  Hit points allow fighter to leap from canyons without fear of death.  They let fighters shout "Go ahead and hit me" to the kobold, knowing its d6 damage won't have any effect on his 104-hp frame.

Anything related to hit points, including healing, is inherently unrealistic.  So I find it very difficult to gauge when someone is going to say "That's unbelievable!"  Martial healing?  Proportional healing?  Healing surges?  I have no idea why any of these things are more or less believable in the context of the absurd unbelievability of hit points in the first place.

(Armor class, attack rolls, and damage rolls, too, but that's another story.)
Often mechanics in the game are criticized for being too unbelievable. A common example is the "Come and Get It" power, which allowed fighters to pull enemies to them. My question is: how much does the game need to cater to people's sense of believability?

It needs to cater enough to satisfy the players the game needs to succeed. That may seem like a trivial answer, but it is the truth. The game has to satisfy enough people to be successful, that is really all that really matters. There is not single level of realism that suits everybody, and in many cases it varies by campaign setting and style. Plus, which things bother people varies widely, it is often one of those things where either it bothers you or it doesn't and there is no particular rhyme or reason to which do and which don't.

That said, I do think 4e is pushing the outer edges of the level of believability that it could maintain and still be popular. 4e had a bunch of problems but the regular arguments over how characters often feel more like superheros then heroes and similar issues make me think this was getting in the way of the systems popularity.

I often look at it like a this: If a fantasy movie scene can show it to you and not break that "reality code," then I can describe a mechanic and not break the reality code. 

Skelletons crawling up ropes I think Pirates of the Caribbean.  Seems real enough.  Frodo getting skewered by a cave troll's spear.  Eh, ok, I'll buy the armor protected him and only caused him to be bruised and have the wind knocked out of him.  A million machine guns unable to hit Rambo.  No.  If the mechanics get there, I put a halt to it. 

On a side note, I have no idea why, but I have issues with people falling in movies.  Even The Hobbit, which I loved, bothered the heck out of me.  Those guys fell three or four times, often a hundred feet.  Arghhh!!!  Anyone else have issues like this with damage and movie characters?   
I tend to see breakdown in believability ('dissociated mechanics') as being of one or two categories.


There is a dissociation between what the player knows and does and what the character would observe.  Hit points fall into this category.  These are an artifact of the fact that it is a game and some aspects of the game are abstracted to make the game more playable.

Then there is a dissociation between what the character does and what the character observes.  A character uses a power and - through no discernable force - affects what another creature does elsewhere.  A marked creature continues to suffer the effects of the mark even if the figher leaves the room; a warlord shifts a character who is deaf and blind.

And yes - it may be difficult to determine which category some aspects of the game fall into.  I consider Vancian spell limits to be of the first category, but I am sure that other people will jump in and explain why it is actually of the second category (and just as many will try to argue that a mark is actually the first category and I just lack the imagination to fluff it appropriately).

But that is how I see it - and dissociations of the first category I tolerate as necessary abstractions while dissociations of the second category rankle and I would prefer to have as few of them as possible in the 5e rules.

Carl
Let's see ...
Magic.
Monsters that violate the most basic laws of reality, like the square cube law.
Active meddling gods.
Shapechanging that violates the law of conservation of mass.
Multiple sentient species.
Psionics.
Alternate dimensions.

If you can accept this, then Come And Get It should not bother you.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
Often mechanics in the game are criticized for being too unbelievable. A common example is the "Come and Get It" power, which allowed fighters to pull enemies to them. My question is: how much does the game need to cater to people's sense of believability?

The first thing to note is that when the item in question is something like a power or a specific feat, players can simply choose to not take it. If a group generally agrees that a particular character option makes no sense, then they can simply ignore that option and choose other things instead, as long as there are more believable options available.

This doesn't completely excuse the game from having unbelievable options. If it bothers many players, but one player in the group chooses it, it could affect the group's enjoyment. I think reasonable players should be willing to compromise on things like this, but in extreme cases it could be a major nuisance. It also puts the DM in a bind, because he might be forced to be the "bad guy" and tell one of his players that the thing he is doing that is completely within the rules is damaging the game.

When the unbelievable rule is something built into the core of the game, it is a much greater potential dealbreaker. For instance, although I had no problem with healing in 4e, I can understand people's frustration. It is not a mechanic you can simply opt out of. Another such mechanic would be daily powers on martial classes. Once again, I had no problem, but I can understand how it could really ruin the game for people.

Everybody has a different opinion on what is believable versus what is not. Modular mechanics like spells, powers, and feats are much more easily ignored by a group, so I think the designers should feel free to push things a little bit in those areas. Basic mechanics like a healing system are best handled by having a very believable system, preferably with optional rules for people who prefer other systems.



Dragons?  Ok.
Demon princes?  Ok.
Floating castles?  Ok.
Traveling to the 9 Hells?  Ok.
A fighter that can move an extra 5'?  Hold on now...


Look, if you can accept the fact that the craziest magic you can imagine works it should all be believable. 
Let's see ...
Magic.
Monsters that violate the most basic laws of reality, like the square cube law.
Active meddling gods.
Shapechanging that violates the law of conservation of mass.
Multiple sentient species.
Psionics.

If you can accept this, then Come And Get It should not bother you.




For many who play D&D the only way to break the laws of physics is with magic.    You can't use the existance of magic to excuse gamist mechanics that are unbelievable.    Magic is the only excuse.    All game mechanics are abstract rules that provide a close approximation of what one would expect in the real world.  Anything else is just a mechanic for the sake of it.



It falls on personal taste.

You will suspend your disbelief when things are to your taste and complain about unbelievability or verisimilitude when they are not.
...whatever
Exactly - Magic can explain a lot (although if you use it to explain everying = i.e. "a wizard did it" - it gets old fast).


But it can only explain occuraces which are being affected by magic.



If there is no spell or magic acting upon a given observation the fact that somewhere else in the universe magic exists doesn't make the implausible believable.

If your character runs 90 mile an hour -- it is unbelievable.  If your character was enchanted to somehow run that fast - OK (although it pushes the limts, magic can do amazing things).  But in the absence of an enchantment on the PC - the fact that magic exists, even the fact that that specirfic enchantment might exist - does not suddenly mean that all believability is thrown out the window and 'anything goes'.

Magic only explains that which is being affected by magic.

Carl
I often look at it like a this: If a fantasy movie scene can show it to you and not break that "reality code," then I can describe a mechanic and not break the reality code. 

Skelletons crawling up ropes I think Pirates of the Caribbean.  Seems real enough.  Frodo getting skewered by a cave troll's spear.  Eh, ok, I'll buy the armor protected him and only caused him to be bruised and have the wind knocked out of him.  A million machine guns unable to hit Rambo.  No.  If the mechanics get there, I put a halt to it. 

On a side note, I have no idea why, but I have issues with people falling in movies.  Even The Hobbit, which I loved, bothered the heck out of me.  Those guys fell three or four times, often a hundred feet.  Arghhh!!!  Anyone else have issues like this with damage and movie characters?   



Fantasy is fantasy imo
Exactly - Magic can explain a lot (although if you use it to explain everying = i.e. "a wizard did it" - it gets old fast).


But it can only explain occuraces which are being affected by magic.



If there is no spell or magic acting upon a given observation the fact that somewhere else in the universe magic exists doesn't make the implausible believable.

If your character runs 90 mile an hour -- it is unbelievable.  If your character was enchanted to somehow run that fast - OK (although it pushes the limts, magic can do amazing things).  But in the absence of an enchantment on the PC - the fact that magic exists, even the fact that that specirfic enchantment might exist - does not suddenly mean that all believability is thrown out the window and 'anything goes'.

Magic only explains that which is being affected by magic.

Carl



Who knows what inherent magic is common in exceptional characters or beings in a fictional world?  Superman seems popular enough.
Let's see ...
Magic.
Monsters that violate the most basic laws of reality, like the square cube law.
Active meddling gods.
Shapechanging that violates the law of conservation of mass.
Multiple sentient species.
Psionics.

If you can accept this, then Come And Get It should not bother you.




For many who play D&D the only way to break the laws of physics is with magic.    You can't use the existance of magic to excuse gamist mechanics that are unbelievable.    Magic is the only excuse.    All game mechanics are abstract rules that provide a close approximation of what one would expect in the real world.  Anything else is just a mechanic for the sake of it.





The italics part has never been true of D&D even Gygax was saying that foremost D&D is a game not a sim.



For many who play D&D the only way to break the laws of physics is with magic.  ..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />



My response?  "Get over yourselves."

They don't want it in their games?  Fine.  They can refuse to play a character with mechanics they don't like, or they can choose to ban those mechanics at their tables.  They do NOT get to tell ME what I get to use with MY character or allow at MY table.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.



For many who play D&D the only way to break the laws of physics is with magic.  ..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />



My response?  "Get over yourselves."

They don't want it in their games?  Fine.  They can refuse to play a character with mechanics they don't like, or they can choose to ban those mechanics at their tables.  They do NOT get to tell ME what I get to use with MY character or allow at MY table.




yes however at some point they need to pick and chose rules to put in the book then we can all tear them up and make them our own
Exactly - Magic can explain a lot (although if you use it to explain everying = i.e. "a wizard did it" - it gets old fast).


But it can only explain occuraces which are being affected by magic.



If there is no spell or magic acting upon a given observation the fact that somewhere else in the universe magic exists doesn't make the implausible believable.

If your character runs 90 mile an hour -- it is unbelievable.  If your character was enchanted to somehow run that fast - OK (although it pushes the limts, magic can do amazing things).  But in the absence of an enchantment on the PC - the fact that magic exists, even the fact that that specirfic enchantment might exist - does not suddenly mean that all believability is thrown out the window and 'anything goes'.

Magic only explains that which is being affected by magic.

Carl



Who knows what inherent magic is common in exceptional characters or beings in a fictional world?  Superman seems popular enough.



He is the way he is as a result of his origin.  He is the sci-fi equivalent of 'enchanted' and thus able to exceed the physical limits on the rest of us.  As is also true of Steve Austin (6m dollar man) - with an even more scientific analog to 'enchantment'.

The point is that - yes, some people can exceed the limits of 'believability' in fiction and in the game.  But they do so for specific reasons that are unique to them.  But the fact that they are not subject to those limitation does not suddenly mean that Lois Lane can fly or that Jimmy Olsen can run Mach 2.

Magic can explain why that guy can exceed the limits of physics.  It doesn't generally justify everyone exceeding the limits of physics.

Carl



For many who play D&D the only way to break the laws of physics is with magic.  ..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />



My response?  "Get over yourselves."

They don't want it in their games?  Fine.  They can refuse to play a character with mechanics they don't like, or they can choose to ban those mechanics at their tables.  They do NOT get to tell ME what I get to use with MY character or allow at MY table.




yes however at some point they need to pick and chose rules to put in the book then we can all tear them up and make them our own



Its more likely they'll just refuse to buy the game and play something else that gets things right.
...whatever
Exactly - Magic can explain a lot (although if you use it to explain everying = i.e. "a wizard did it" - it gets old fast).


But it can only explain occuraces which are being affected by magic.



If there is no spell or magic acting upon a given observation the fact that somewhere else in the universe magic exists doesn't make the implausible believable.

If your character runs 90 mile an hour -- it is unbelievable.  If your character was enchanted to somehow run that fast - OK (although it pushes the limts, magic can do amazing things).  But in the absence of an enchantment on the PC - the fact that magic exists, even the fact that that specirfic enchantment might exist - does not suddenly mean that all believability is thrown out the window and 'anything goes'.

Magic only explains that which is being affected by magic.

Carl



Who knows what inherent magic is common in exceptional characters or beings in a fictional world?  Superman seems popular enough.



He is the way he is as a result of his origin.  He is the sci-fi equivalent of 'enchanted' and thus able to exceed the physical limits on the rest of us.  As is also true of Steve Austin (6m dollar man) - with an even more scientific analog to 'enchantment'.

The point is that - yes, some people can exceed the limits of 'believability' in fiction and in the game.  But they do so for specific reasons that are unique to them.  But the fact that they are not subject to those limitation does not suddenly mean that Lois Lane can fly or that Jimmy Olsen can run Mach 2.

Magic can explain why that guy can exceed the limits of physics.  It doesn't generally justify everyone exceeding the limits of physics.

Carl



An adventuring party more closely resembles the X-men or Justice league then commoners, imo. Now I know people will say they ain't super-heroes, but by the time they hit level 9 in AD&D they were super heroes.
Exactly - Magic can explain a lot (although if you use it to explain everying = i.e. "a wizard did it" - it gets old fast).


But it can only explain occuraces which are being affected by magic.



If there is no spell or magic acting upon a given observation the fact that somewhere else in the universe magic exists doesn't make the implausible believable.

If your character runs 90 mile an hour -- it is unbelievable.  If your character was enchanted to somehow run that fast - OK (although it pushes the limts, magic can do amazing things).  But in the absence of an enchantment on the PC - the fact that magic exists, even the fact that that specirfic enchantment might exist - does not suddenly mean that all believability is thrown out the window and 'anything goes'.

Magic only explains that which is being affected by magic.

Carl



Who knows what inherent magic is common in exceptional characters or beings in a fictional world?  Superman seems popular enough.



He is the way he is as a result of his origin.  He is the sci-fi equivalent of 'enchanted' and thus able to exceed the physical limits on the rest of us.  As is also true of Steve Austin (6m dollar man) - with an even more scientific analog to 'enchantment'.

The point is that - yes, some people can exceed the limits of 'believability' in fiction and in the game.  But they do so for specific reasons that are unique to them.  But the fact that they are not subject to those limitation does not suddenly mean that Lois Lane can fly or that Jimmy Olsen can run Mach 2.

Magic can explain why that guy can exceed the limits of physics.  It doesn't generally justify everyone exceeding the limits of physics.

Carl



An adventuring party more closely resembles the X-men or Justice league then commoners, imo. Now I know people will say they ain't super-heroes, but by the time they hit level 9 in AD&D they were super heroes.



And may well have come across the opportunity to have themselves enchanted in one way or another.  What's your point here?

Just because they are ninth level the laws of physics suddenly don't apply?  Or because they are ninth, they have had the opportunity to find ways (typically magical) that break the laws of physics.



Carl
The normal laws of physics don't apply.  Now do they?  Time travel, wish, teleportation, none of those can exist with the physics of our universe (supposedly). Now with regards to the characters' universe the laws of physics if they encompass magic and divinities must be much different.

So it does seem that sheer willpower and determination can allow, in that universe things that wouldn't work in ours and still be consistent with the rules of that universe. Especially since the rules are arbitrary. 
The normal laws of physics don't apply.  Now do they?  Time travel, wish, teleportation, none of those can exist with the physics of our universe (supposedly). Now with regards to the characters' universe the laws of physics if they encompass magic and divinities must be much different.

So it does seem that sheer willpower and determination can allow, in that universe things that wouldn't work in ours and still be consistent with the rules of that universe. Especially since the rules are arbitrary. 



Does it?

Or does it seem that magic can allow, in that universe, things that wouldn't work in ours.

Characters can't fly through 'willpower and determination'.  But they can fly through magic.

Etc. Etc. As nauseum.


Carl
The normal laws of physics don't apply.  Now do they?  Time travel, wish, teleportation, none of those can exist with the physics of our universe (supposedly). Now with regards to the characters' universe the laws of physics if they encompass magic and divinities must be much different.

So it does seem that sheer willpower and determination can allow, in that universe things that wouldn't work in ours and still be consistent with the rules of that universe. Especially since the rules are arbitrary. 



Does it?

Or does it seem that magic can allow, in that universe, things that wouldn't work in ours.

Characters can't fly through 'willpower and determination'.  But they can fly through magic.

Etc. Etc. As nauseum.


Carl



What are psionics again?  Or ki?  If the rules say it's sheer willpower it's sheer willpower in that universe. Just as people fly in the astral via will. Reconciling this universe with that universe cannot be done.
Believability is not rated based on the exceptions to the multitudes, but on the multitudes themselves.

The typical answer of "because magic!" gets tiresome. Unfortunately, it doesn't make it any less true most of the time. Most people will watch Harry Potter movies and not question the wierd things that happen because 90% of the people on-screen are using magic. The physical rules of the real world go out the window when the supernatural is introduced. Let the guy in your favorite sports movie let loose with a mgical wand attack, though, and your suspension of disbelief will be shattered. No one thinks it's odd when a vampire turns into a wolf, then into a bat, then walks up the wall. Why? Because we've been led to believe that they can do those sort of things. In the supernatural context, what they're doing is normal and believable. Let that vampire wonder into the set of your favorite sitcom, though, and verisimilitude will surely take a major hit.

Think about Die Hard. Everyone knows that John McClane is a badass. He can consistently survive things no one in the real world could, but we accept it. Why? Because he's in an action movie, and action-movie guys do the impossible all the time. Let John McClane drop the guns, though, turn to face the bad guys, and let loose a fireball from his finger-tips. Just like that, suspension of disbelief is gone. Verisimilitude just got flushed down the swirler. Why? He's a badass, right? He can do the impossible, right? We know he can do amazing things, but we won't believe for a second that he can cast fireballs from his fingers. If, however, he was a D&D character, he could simply be a gish class or a multi fighter/wizard, and no one would think anything of it.

D&D (and other fantasy games) walks a tight line. Everyone that plays it goes into it expecting different things. I want a fighter that can do all the badass things John McClane can do. My buddy wants a wizard that can do all the things that Merlin can do. The DM wants to make the campaign a survival-horror, Resident Evil or Silent Hill setting. Those are three extremely different expectations being rolled into one game, not counting the other players or the specific ruleset being used. D&D is expected to be able to facilitate these expectations and run smoothly. I think it does a wonderful job of that (in most every edition). Every once in a while verisimilitude takes a little knock on the head, but it's to be expected. No one game can ever encompass all the expectations that every player brings with them without the occassional glitch in the Matrix. Best thing to do? Try not to worry about it too much. If it's not a constant suspension of disbelief, then it is not likely to be a big deal. If it is, though, and it's something you simply can't get over, then chances are A) you're trying to make the game do something it really wasn't meant to do, or B) the ruleset you're using is not the right one for you.

"The world is indeed comic, but the joke is on mankind." - H.P. Lovecraft
There are lots of abstractions that are difficult to reconcile with a realistic or gritty view of the game world... eventually you just have to accept them as quirks of the system and let them float into the background.

The AC system has always bothered me, for instance.  You might be a level 20 fighter, a master swordsman, but you are nearly defenseless without armor or magical protection.  One would think that a master swordsman would be able to ward off most attacks... but this isn't the case in D&D and never has been.  He can just soak up a bunch of hits.

I am actually surprised that D&D has never made a solid attempt at an active defense system.  Or at least a system of AC that scaled based on something other than armor.  Armor as DR always made sense to me, and the conversion rules aren't terrible, but they always miss the other side of that equation.  

Shields have also been undervalued and underpowered in D&D for a looooong time.  Considering that a shield was the most important defensive tool of the pre-firearm soldier since, well forever, this has always been weird in my eyes.  I mean, come on... a +1 AC?  Really?  A three foot wide, two inch thick, metal wrapped oak barrier, and that is all you get?  I understand that there are balance issues to consider, but it still sucks.
 


The AC system has always bothered me, for instance.  You might be a level 20 fighter, a master swordsman, but you are nearly defenseless without armor or magical protection.  One would think that a master swordsman would be able to ward off most attacks... but this isn't the case in D&D and never has been.  He can just soak up a bunch of hits.



Huh? Monks have gained a scaling AC starting since at least  3rd edition, and AC scaled with character level for everyone in 4E...


Shields have also been undervalued and underpowered in D&D for a looooong time.  Considering that a shield was the most important defensive tool of the pre-firearm soldier since, well forever, this has always been weird in my eyes.  I mean, come on... a +1 AC?  Really?  A three foot wide, two inch thick, metal wrapped oak barrier, and that is all you get?  I understand that there are balance issues to consider, but it still sucks.
 



Strongly agree with this.

I'd say the Fighter's Parry seems like a good starting point to help shields out a bit here. Maybe damage from other sources can be mitigated by Parrying with a shield, namely ranged attacks and breath weapons?





The AC system has always bothered me, for instance.  You might be a level 20 fighter, a master swordsman, but you are nearly defenseless without armor or magical protection.  One would think that a master swordsman would be able to ward off most attacks... but this isn't the case in D&D and never has been.  He can just soak up a bunch of hits.



Huh? Monks have gained a scaling AC starting since at least  3rd edition, and AC scaled with character level for everyone in 4E...


Shields have also been undervalued and underpowered in D&D for a looooong time.  Considering that a shield was the most important defensive tool of the pre-firearm soldier since, well forever, this has always been weird in my eyes.  I mean, come on... a +1 AC?  Really?  A three foot wide, two inch thick, metal wrapped oak barrier, and that is all you get?  I understand that there are balance issues to consider, but it still sucks.
 



Strongly agree with this.

I'd say the Fighter's Parry seems like a good starting point to help shields out a bit here. Maybe damage from other sources can be mitigated by Parrying with a shield, namely ranged attacks and breath weapons?






I would be okay with that.... and I would actually be okay with those sorts of shield defenses being fighter-specific.  I think that a fighter specializing in shields should get some pretty hefty defensive boosts rather than getting to deal damage with shield bashes (or both ideally).  PF did a pretty good job of bringing shields back into relevance for 3.5, but mostly as really good offhand weapons.  
In D&DN, the parry rules are underwhelming.... i agree that a damage reduction is a good way to go (because it seemlessly handles the difficulty of parrying a giant's club versus  a kobolds short sword) but the cost is pretty heavy.  Also, if a Shield Block ability restricts the use of parry or vice versa then its still no good.  

Anyway, yeah.... shields... make em cool.

I think the wording of the thread title is itself telling. In a lot of ways, I think 4e was the first edition to put serious pressure on the players to take responsibility for the "realism" of their actions.

Just the abstract justification for a lot of things in 4e (ie you can only use CaGI once per encounter because it's physically taxing, or because enemies won't fall for it twice, or because the situation is only right once, whichever suits your mood best) puts a lot more pressure on the players to come up with a story for each action.

In 3e, I could make an attack and just say, "I swing my ax," and the game was careful not to give me many options that required complex justification beyond "it's magic." In 4e, almost every attack I make is some kind of special power, and many need a bit of elaboration to fit into the scenario. The famous example is knocking a slime prone: 4e basically says it's up to you how you describe disabling this ooze such that it can't move around without special effort.

In my mind the 4e system can be both more inspiring (because it forces me to think of new narrative justifications for my techniques) and more tiring or frustrating (because in practice I usually have to choose my character's actions first from an out of character tactical perspective, and then find a way to justify them from my CHARACTER'S tactical perspective, rather than just staying in my character's head and figuring out what he would do.) So I've already bought into the idea that it's part of my job as a roleplayer to make the narrative work - I just gripe when that work gets more annoying than rewarding.

Others, of course, think of these moments that FORCE you to justify the mechanics narratively as flaws in those mechanics.

My personal preference would be for something right between 3e and 4e. I don't mind if my fighter's mechanics require a little thought to explain, as long as there's a clear line from my character's tactics to my tactics as a player. (5e is doing a fine job of this so far IMO, including even the trickier stuff like the rogue's Taunt power. I might have to work to figure out how to trick an archer into rushing into melee, but so does my character, so there's no player/character divide created.)
I pretty much agree with mvincent here, although I always substitute "consistent" in place of "realistic"; the game world is a place, where the mechanics are the laws of nature. Whether or not those laws are realistic for our own world, I can believe in them just fine as long as they're internally consistent.



It falls on personal taste.

You will suspend your disbelief when things are to your taste and complain about unbelievability or verisimilitude when they are not.



There are some areas where verisimilitude makes sense.  How much can a character carry? How fast can he run?  How far can he jump?  (Now, D&D has been really bad at this, and the current encumberance rules are absurd, but at least they try.)

But some mechanics are inherently unrealistic.  Hit Points are the king of unrealism.  It both encourages people to think of fighters as porcupines with dozens of arrows sticking out of their flesh, and that we should have in no way any expectation that all those arrows sticking out of him mean he is slower, less accurate, weaker, fatigued, or suffering blood loss.  Hit points allow fighter to leap from canyons without fear of death.  They let fighters shout "Go ahead and hit me" to the kobold, knowing its d6 damage won't have any effect on his 104-hp frame.

Anything related to hit points, including healing, is inherently unrealistic.  So I find it very difficult to gauge when someone is going to say "That's unbelievable!"  Martial healing?  Proportional healing?  Healing surges?  I have no idea why any of these things are more or less believable in the context of the absurd unbelievability of hit points in the first place.

(Armor class, attack rolls, and damage rolls, too, but that's another story.)


I think those three posts sum it up pretty well.

There are a great many problems that can be circumvented by players and DMs having a mature discussion about what the game is going to be like before they ever sit down together to play.

 

The answer really does lie in more options, not in confining and segregating certain options.

 

You really shouldn't speak for others.  You can't hear what someone else is saying when you try to put your words in their mouth.

 

Fencing & Swashbuckling as Armor.

D20 Modern Toon PC Race.

Mecha Pilot's Skill Challenge Emporium.

 

Save the breasts.

Reality is unrealistic...  and I really dont like the narrow unrealities of some of the posters

Come and get it is a very close analog to a real life fencing move called an Invitation (or more simply a false opening) one time and the next time it may be Bilbo Baggins Taunting spiders in to run racing after him - inspite of being ranged web tossers  Kiss.  

Sometimes its pretty short range, watched a video of this boxer who leads with his jaw "but not really" as he is hunching back the adversary goes for it - he pedals back slightly then snaps his back upwards laying in with a vicious cross (lots of back in it) that cracks his flailing adversary incredibly solid ....it was hook line and sinker.
 
CaGi barely affects anything that isnt almost in melee range already (15 ft is so close you should be switching to a melee weapon unless you are a really uber snap shot - short draw expert able to respond in 1/2 second who was already going to attack him and he will likely get that attack in anyway.)
  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'd say the Fighter's Parry seems like a good starting point to help shields out a bit here. Maybe damage from other sources can be mitigated by Parrying with a shield, namely ranged attacks and breath weapons?


Oh most definitely at minimum a shield ought to enable parrying range attacks it cant currently.

I can parry thrown attacks quite well personally... so I am pretty certain it needs to be opened up in general more.

I am sure parry was changed to make it more "realistic"  - funny how I can do in basica something these more realistic rules dont allow.
  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."

 

Personally I think the burden of believability lies on the individuals and the tables they play at.

Just because "you" or "you group" can't accept something at "your" table does NOT mean I should not be able to use an option at mine.

Note: the quotes are because that's not directed at any individual.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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.

The AC system has always bothered me, for instance.  You might be a level 20 fighter, a master swordsman, but you are nearly defenseless without armor or magical protection.  One would think that a master swordsman would be able to ward off most attacks... but this isn't the case in D&D and never has been.  He can just soak up a bunch of hits.

I am actually surprised that D&D has never made a solid attempt at an active defense system.  Or at least a system of AC that scaled based on something other than armor.  Armor as DR always made sense to me, and the conversion rules aren't terrible, but they always miss the other side of that equation.  

I am not particular bothered or surprised by it. It is actually part of the game and is known as hit points. Hit points are a lot of things, and this is certainly part of it. Anything more to deal with parry and it becomes rather compicated really fast.

Note btw that in 4e defenses did raise with level and could for some builds be completely seperated from armor, but that caused its own problems. It were those problems that likely is what made bounded accuracy look like such a good idea to the designers.
There are a lot of impossible things accepted by most people in fictions, like characters being repeatedly beaten unconscious during their long carreers as heroes, often hit in the head with a gun, and not quickly ending blind, stupid, deaf or in a wheelchair.

There's also the example of very old vampires falling in love with underage humans.

And D&D druids, defenders of Nature ready to… ignore the laws of nature when it pleases them, turning themselves into animals, altering the properties of plant and animals or distorting them, and using animals to serve them.

Another bizarre common used idea in fictions is nazis having developped very advanced technologies during the WW2, when it was clear that decisions regarding science from these people were very very limited, psychopatic and useless in the domains biology and medecine.

A well-known drow ranger developped a specialization in two-weapon fighting with swords, even if underground races are bound to fight in very narrow places, the rangers more than others. And for other rangers, combat specialization with bows is good in the great plains, not in varied terrains, and a poor choice in wild forests.
But these two combat styles are regarded as iconic for rangers by a lot of people.

People are ready to accept a lot of strange concepts, but not necessarily the same ones…
Reality is unrealistic...  and I really dont like the narrow unrealities of some of the posters

Come and get it is a very close analog to a real life fencing move called an Invitation (or more simply a false opening) one time and the next time it may be Bilbo Baggins Taunting spiders in to run racing after him - inspite of being ranged web tossers  .

The problem with Come and Get It isn't the general idea, it is the details of the implemenation. It is more then a false opening or a taunt because it works on unconcious creatures, it works on immobilized creatures, it works on creatures that can't understand you and on ones totally unaware that you are there plus it has no size limitations so it is hard to describe as a physical action either. If they had picked one idea and built a power that works from that one idea with the limitations that idea would have, it would be fine. In creating a balanced but simplified power that has no limitations at all they open the door to all kinds of strange situations.

Reality is unrealistic...  and I really dont like the narrow unrealities of some of the posters

Come and get it is a very close analog to a real life fencing move called an Invitation (or more simply a false opening) one time and the next time it may be Bilbo Baggins Taunting spiders in to run racing after him - inspite of being ranged web tossers  .

The problem with Come and Get It isn't the general idea, it is the details of the implemenation. It is more then a false opening or a taunt because it works on unconcious creatures, it works on immobilized creatures, it works on creatures that can't understand you and on ones totally unaware that you are there plus it has no size limitations so it is hard to describe as a physical action either. If they had picked one idea and built a power that works from that one idea with the limitations that idea would have, it would be fine. In creating a balanced but simplified power that has no limitations at all they open the door to all kinds of strange situations.

The flavor of come and get it sucks, I agree. It would have been better to describe the trigger as a feigned weakness that entice enemies to try something against you. But as it is describe, I agree that language is a problem.

But shifting is a willing action, a movement planned by a creature, which can't be the case if the creature is unconscious. And immobilization doesn't allow most movements.

The only forced movements are push, pull and slide.



For many who play D&D the only way to break the laws of physics is with magic.  ..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />



My response?  "Get over yourselves."

They don't want it in their games?  Fine.  They can refuse to play a character with mechanics they don't like, or they can choose to ban those mechanics at their tables.  They do NOT get to tell ME what I get to use with MY character or allow at MY table.



No, the best way is to provide those mechanics as optional rules.  That way nothing has to be banned at the table and no one has to go home crying.