Why We Should Say “Abstract” Instead of “Dissonant” or “Dissociative”

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I think that we, as a community, have reached a point where the use of language is (once again) preventing us from having constructive discussions about important design issues which will have a significant affect on the game which D&D Next turns into.


One of the key issues with the terms “dissonant” and “dissociative” is their prior usage as pejorative edition warring language.  This shouldn’t be dismissed as an issue because it is clear that despite the best efforts of many a good deal of our discussions are derailed by edition warring even today.


But much more significantly despite the best efforts of their supporters both of these terms are inherently negative.  This makes it difficult to take them seriously as neutral terms for mechanics which might subjectively be good or bad depending on the opinion of the viewer as even applying the term implies negativity.


Further to this it is clear that the application of both terms has become highly subjective, whatever the intentions of the original bloggers.  The objective application of the definitions has been consistently rejected where the subjective opinions of those individuals have been “wrong” according to that application.


Additionally it has proven very difficult to apply the terms dissonant or dissociative in degrees.  They have largely become binary and this stifles constructive discussion of the extent to which they can be tolerated or not by individuals.


But I do agree that there ARE mechanics of a certain type which are an issue for a significant group of D&D players.


This group of players do deserve to have their opinions included in the design phase of the game and the optional and modular opportunity to play D&D the way they want to.


Thus we need a term which we can use to objectively measure mechanics so that  they can be more usefully discussed and their real merit attributed.


I suggest that we start using the term “abstract”.


This term applies to all the mechanics which the words dissonant and dissociative have been assigned to, does not have the edition war baggage, is not inherently negative, can be applied objectively and is applicable in degrees.


The application of the term abstract to mechanics will allow us to discuss the same issues as the concepts of dissonance and disassociation but without the inevitable arguments about the language which have characterised these threads recently.


We can say “good abstraction” and “bad abstraction” to talk about abstract mechanics we like and don’t like (HP and Martial Dailies for example).


We can say “small abstraction” and “large abstraction” or “not very abstract” and “very abstract” to talk about degrees of abstraction (turn based combat or dice for resolution for example).


 


I think that this one small change could do a lot to help improve the level of discussion which is happening on some very important topics on this forum.
Abstract is a word in the dictionary.  And it doesn't mean dissonant.  I dropped the term dissociative mechanic and started using metagame dissonance.  I am tired of hopping around to avoid ruffling someone's feathers.  Plot coupon isn't broad enough to completely cover the subject.  Obviously it fits when it fits.

When I talk about metagame dissonance, I am using it based on the definition in my blog.  I realize you are having some trouble grasping all the distinguishing characteristics.  For that I apologize.  They are there and they are important.

This thread need not go on.   
I realize you are having some trouble grasping all the distinguishing characteristics.  For that I apologize. 


Not helping yourself with this.
Doesn't "Wuxia BS" cover this?
Doesn't "Wuxia BS" cover this?



No something could definitely be wuxia and not be dissonant.  For example, blinding barrage a rogue power is very much wuxia.  Since it's a daily it is also dissonant.  If it were an at-will, it would not be dissonant.  It would still be wuxia though.   And yes, I don't like wuxia either.
Abstract is a word in the dictionary.  And it doesn't mean dissonant.  I dropped the term dissociative mechanic and started using metagame dissonance.  I am tired of hopping around to avoid ruffling someone's feathers.  Plot coupon isn't broad enough to completely cover the subject.  Obviously it fits when it fits.

When I talk about metagame dissonance, I am using it based on the definition in my blog.  I realize you are having some trouble grasping all the distinguishing characteristics.  For that I apologize.  They are there and they are important.

This thread need not go on.   



All of these statements cannot be true at the same time.

Because you have failed to consistantly apply the definition from your own blog.

Further you have admitted that you dislike everything you call dissonant and it has been repeatedly pointed out that you apply the term in a subjective fashion.

This is precisely why we need to move away from this problematic language.     
Abstraction is a process of simplification.      Regardless, an abstraction can't exist without its more complex form.   

Dissonance is not the same thing as abstraction.    Dissonance is a state of mental conflict.  Abstractions help us to understand things, they don't create situations that require obtuse explainations.  

I doubt very much that we could create realistic physical model of two warriors fighting each other. There would be billions upon billions of varriables required to actually simulate such a thing.   In addition, without a detailed understanding of the human brain it just can't happen.

The most we can do is abstract the parts we don't understand and simplify combat for our game.     The end result must be something that produces a very similar outcome to the real thing,  otherwise it wouldn't be an abstraction of the same thing.

Emerikol is correct, daily and encounter powers can sometimes create a state mental conflict.    An abstraction can't ever create a mental conflict because it's a simplification of a more complex system.    

With that said, I really have to wonder what complex systems encounter and daily powers are simplifying.    From what I can tell those concepts are not a simplification or an abstraction of anything.   They are just gamist tools that exist for the sake of game balance.   


Abstraction is a process of simplification.      Regardless, an abstraction can't exist without its more complex form.   

Dissonance is not the same thing as abstraction.    Dissonance is a state of mental conflict.  Abstractions help us to understand things, they don't create situations that require obtuse explainations.  

I doubt very much that we could create realistic physical model of two warriors fighting each other. There would be billions upon billions of varriables required to actually simulate such a thing.   In addition, without a detailed understanding of the human brain it just can't happen.

The most we can do is abstract the parts we don't understand and simplify combat for our game.     The end result must be something that produces a very similar outcome to the real thing,  otherwise it wouldn't be an abstraction of the same thing.

Emerikol is correct, daily and encounter powers can sometimes create a state mental conflict.    An abstraction can't ever create a mental conflict because it's a simplification of a more complex system.    

With that said, I really have to wonder what complex systems encounter and daily powers are simplifying.    From what I can tell those concepts are not a simplification or an abstraction of anything.   They are just gamist tools that exist for the sake of game balance.   



You are absolutely correct about the meaning of the words.

But the way they refer to mechanics in D&D overlaps to the point where one can be used to cover the other.

While some things which are abstract are not things people believe are dissonant there are not any things which people believe are dissonant which are not abstract.

And I see the abstraction of daily and encounter powers modeling the capability of skilled fighters to shape the flow of a combat and take advantage of opportunities in a way the abstract model of D&D combat does not otherwise allow.     
As others have pointed out, abstract is a simplification, it is not the same thing as dissonent which people are using to mean a BAD abstraction.

We don't want another game where people can trip oozes.

But the way they refer to mechanics in D&D overlaps to the point where one can be used to cover the other.


 

@mikemearls don't quite understand the difference

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As others have pointed out, abstract is a simplification, it is not the same thing as dissonent which people are using to mean a BAD abstraction.

We don't want another game where people can trip oozes.

But the way they refer to mechanics in D&D overlaps to the point where one can be used to cover the other.


 
  So bad can mean good your your lexicon.  Go away troll.



I don't want another game where people can trip oozes either.

But the terrible language being used to discuss the issues makes meaningful discussion impossible.

And the whole point is that using language to mean BAD abstraction when people don't agree if those mechanics are bad or not is one of the biggest issues.  We need neutral language.

We can all agree that some mechanics are more abstract than others, we can't agree on anything about dissonance!

I'll note, even you seem mistaken about dissonance given that the original blogger denies that dissonant mechanics are always inherently bad (but he only uses it to describe things he doesn't like and never for things which he does like even when his own definition fits).       
As others have pointed out, abstract is a simplification, it is not the same thing as dissonent which people are using to mean a BAD abstraction.

We don't want another game where people can trip oozes.




Oddly enough, based on the given definitions, I don't think knocking oozes over counts as dissonant. After all, the player knows that he can knock over an ooze and it will need to take time to get back up, and a character knows he can knock over an ooze and it will need time to get back up.

Such a thing isn't dissonant, no matter how much it offends your sensibilities.

If you want to complain about realisim and how you can trip an ooze, perhaps oozes assume a certain shape when they attempt to move, and triping an ooze has the effect of forcing them to spend time to reshape themselves first.

Either way, not dissonant.

As others have pointed out, abstract is a simplification, it is not the same thing as dissonent which people are using to mean a BAD abstraction.

We don't want another game where people can trip oozes.




Oddly enough, based on the given definitions, I don't think knocking oozes over counts as dissonant. After all, the player knows that he can knock over an ooze and it will need to take time to get back up, and a character knows he can knock over an ooze and it will need time to get back up.

Such a thing isn't dissonant, no matter how much it offends your sensibilities.

If you want to complain about realisim and how you can trip an ooze, perhaps oozes assume a certain shape when they attempt to move, and triping an ooze has the effect of forcing them to spend time to reshape themselves first.

Either way, not dissonant.




Good point.

And another good way in which the current usage of language is preventing meaningful discussion. 
I think this thread is an example of a euphemism treadmill. 

It won't matter if the term "abstraction" is embraced because the underlying hostility remains. The only way forward is to let go of the arguments of the past.
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If you want to pick terms that won't be hated, you need to use words that describe the possitive aspects of each, while distinguishing from each other.


Player narrativism seemed positive to me.  However, I'm not sure it fits all the situations.  That might be okay though, maybe those other niches could use separate terms.  
I suspect that alot of the "Offense" isn't actually offense,  but a strategy to shut down discussions that show 4th edition in a negative light.

That tends to happen alot around here.  "Dissociative",  a word in the dictionary that describes a certain relationship,  is suddenly edition warring.  If you don't like a class or a race,  it's suddenly "One true way" or "Bad wrong fun",  or "Trying to dictate how everyone else plays the game".

All of these are strategies designed specifically to...

A.  Derail the conversation showing the 4th edition feature in a negative light when strong debate is presented.

B.  Attempt to shame or drive out the poster in order to stop the debate.

C.  Attempt to stop the debate by getting the poster a ban for "Edition warring" by pretending to take offense.

D.  Attempt to kill the thread and stop the debate by derailing it and devolving it into a edition war.

You can see that this is true,  because the posters taking "offense" are the first ones to call something like Vancian "Nonsense" frequently,  making "Nonsense" just as much edition warring as "Dissociative".

Watch the threads,  you can see this practice pretty consistently occur in any thread discussing a 4th editionism as soon as the debate starts to turn,  and you can pretty consistently see that no such events occur in any thread discussing a pre-4th editionism.   
and you can pretty consistently see that no such events occur in any thread discussing a pre-4th editionism.   

With or without Paladins involved?

Imo, the idea of dissonance as a qualitative term does not need to be thrown out, nor should it be conflated with abstraction. Please don't anyone take offense at my use of the word conflation, but that is what I see happening in this thread. Dissonance and abstraction are not the same thing, and by throwing out the idea of dissonance, we also deny the floor to those who have found it a helpful way to describe their responses to certain game elements. Moreover, the idea of dissonance is potentially more helpful than the idea of abstraction if we are to come to understand each other's points of view on different game elements.

How did I get to this conclusion? Consider this claim: everything in D&D is an abstraction.

My premises: in D&D, nothing is exactly what it claims to be; every game element is the representation of an idea but not the actual idea itself; all representations of ideas are abstractions, even those representations claiming to be "realistic"; a Jack London story, for instance, though it may present a "realistic" view of something as mundane and yet terrifying as trying to start a fire in order to survive freezing temperatures, is an abstraction; a story is actually made of words on paper, which are not actual events, not frozen wastes in the Yukon, and not freezing men attempting to build fires; a story is made of words that represent something that they are not, and a story is thus inherently abstract.

From this perspective, D&D in its entirety is an abstract thought experiment asking, can we simulate/represent/narrate fantasy stories with heroes (or antiheroes, or whatever actors we choose) and monsters and various characters who will interact within a setting using dice to decide outcomes when they are in doubt and by so doing can we create a cooperative experience out of this abstraction? The answer, every time we play D&D, is yes, we can do that. We can use abstractions to cast a spell of sorts that results in an amazing shared experience.

If it is true that D&D is one big collection of abstractions, then we can't very well argue about which abstractions are important to the game without qualifying those abstractions, so that arguing (by which I mean reasoned discussion, not yelling at each other) in terms of abstraction alone, when what is at stake is actually the manner in which different players interact with that abstraction, is not going to be productive. The elements of the game are obviously abstractions, every one of them interchangeable for other abstractions that could do the same job in some other way; the real question is how do we, as player-subjects, respond to those different objective elements, subjectively, and can we come to an understanding of each other about our responses to those game elements?

If you follow me so far, then productive questions would seem to be such as these:

Which abstract game elements (if it is true that they are all abstract) cause which player-subjects to disbelieve or otherwise become shaken out of the shared narrative experience that the game produces? (for those who care about shared narrative experiences; I hear there are some who play D&D more for the strategic and tactical elements and care very little for the narrative and who I suppose would speak in terms of having interesting strategic and tactical options to play around with, but I really don't know and shouldn't try to speak for them)

Likewise, how can these game elements best be described in order to identify other such potentially dissonant game elements in the future? (and this not so that all such elements can be removed and banned from the game, but so that different play styles can more easily be understood and achieved by selecting particular options, decisions about how to run campaigns can be made with more foreknowledge, and friendship with those of other playstyles can be maintained through mutual understanding)

(Which leads to...)

How can the sensibilities of widely different player-subjects be accomodated under one game system? What are the most-loved and most-loathed game elements, both of which need to be addressed in the game? (the most-loved must be supported for those who love them, while the most-loathed must always be paired with popular alternatives for those who would rather use a different option; if somebody doesn't like pizza, make sure they have a hamburger, right? or if somebody doesn't eat meat, make sure there's a veggie pizza around, etc...)

For myself, the idea of dissonance accurately captures how certain abstract game elements take away from my gaming experience. I don't agree with anyone who claims that there is anything inherently wrong with using this term, on the following basis.

The apprehension of dissonance is an inherently subjective experience, not an objective one, meaning that what I may experience as dissonance may be experienced by someone else as something orderly and intuitive and graceful -- ie, harmonious. This can be seen in music, where much traditional Asian music sounds dissonant to the ears of those who have grown up with the Western World's system of musical scales. Vice-versa is also true; Western music tends to sound dissonant to those who have grown up with Asian music. A similar thing happened with the advent of rock 'n roll, as most of us probably know; many older folks at the time just didn't "get it." It didn't seem harmonious to them, while many in the younger crowd found it quite groovy and could no longer stand the older folks' preferred music. The same song, like the same abstract game element, can prompt different responses in different people, and the ideas of dissonance and harmony are very helpful in describing these responses.

When we're talking about dissonance and harmony, neither side is either right or wrong, because each is describing its own experience of the same thing, just as gamers can experience the same game element but come away with differing responses to that element. If someone is talking about dissonance, they are already admitting that they are describing their own response to something; I cannot logically disagree with their response, which is their own, just as I cannot logically expect everyone else to experience a game element the same as I do.

So, the idea of dissonance is actually a very helpful tool in understanding each other, potentially -- when it is understood that it refers to a subjective and thus limited experience (limited to whomever is giving their response to the game element in question).

My assumption here is that honest responses should be held in honor, whether or not I share that response. If I don't stand up for the one who has a dissonant experience now, who will stand up for me when I am the one having a dissonant experience? So, I sympathize with 4e fans who feel slighted by certain elements lacking in the playtest. I don't share their responses, by and large, but since I want my own 1-2e sensibilities listened to, I don't think they should be left out in the cold. It's their game too, and the precedent, once applied, applies also to me. The situation I would rather see is fans of all editions standing together to insist that the game elements we all love will be supported in D&D 5e as options to pick and choose from. I'm honestly not sure if this is possible to achieve, but I think it's worth trying.

Now, I have defended the idea of dissonance because without it we cannot focus on harmony. Perhaps one thing that could help our discussions would be to focus, instead of on dissonant game elements, on game elements that provide us with a harmonious experience (ie, that jive with our own sensibilities) and to describe why it is that those elements give us a harmonious experience... (???)

Focusing on the harmonious might look like this:

Rather than discussing in detail how I dislike the current initiative system (alas, I confess that I do), I should tell why the initiative system I prefer makes things work for me. In most cases, I prefer to have players declare actions first, then roll a d6 per side for each round of combat, the lowest side resolving first (so that I can add positive modifiers as penalties), with prepared missile fire first, then prepared spells, then moves, then unprepared missiles and melee attacks, then second missile volleys and spells begun in-round, this for each side. This system makes more sense to me from the standpoint of the chaos of battle. We make our plans, but we don't know if they're going to work out and exactly what order in which things will all take place, but at the same time there is ease of use and a rhythm to it that players pick up on. I also like how it encourages players to think together as a group, make group plans, and handle the entire game as a group mind, from exploration to interaction to combat. I like how round by round initiative makes combat advantage swing back and forth between sides, alternately provoking expectations of triumph and a sense of dread in players. I like how it gives me, as the DM, a chance to consider what the PC's foes will be doing on a whole-round basis, so that I can hatch my own short- and long-term strategies that, just as with the PCs, can be quickly for naught due to player decisions and the chaos of battle represented by the d6 initiative rolls. I appreciate the quick rhythm this method of initiative gives to the game, how missile attacks and melee attacks can each be rolled simultaneously and resolved very quickly, and how there is rarely a situation in which my players are waiting for someone else to make a decision or take their turn. They make decisions as a group, they act as a group, they roll dice as a group. I like that, and it makes the game for me, which helps make the game for my players.

Note that nothing I've just written should take away from those who like to roll d20s for each character for initiative. I realize those who prefer that method have their reasons and that it suits their tastes. It feels harmonious for them where it doesn't as much for me. That's fine. But if there are enough people who want varied methods, why shouldn't the game support the most popular options? Is there any reason why it can't? Why should it become an argument over which way is better so that (as I think it sometimes feels to us as playtesters) the devs then have to pick a winner and a loser (which will hopefully be "ours" and not "theirs")? Rarely is one option inherently better; they're just different and produce different results and different responses from different players. We need to focus on having the most popular options for fans of all editions and enable folks to understand what the different options do so that they can pick the ones they want to use. That's all.

Anyway, I've gone on pretty long, which is what I tend to do. I hope none will take that in the wrong way or think that I'm trying to silence anyone by saying a lot. If just one person goes from thinking in negative to more positive terms, or from closed-off to embracing other peoples' ideas, I'll have achieved all that I really intended... Cheers!
Arguments about "Dissociative Mechanics" and "Metagame Dissonance" are just political rhetoric from petty ideologues. These are thinly veiled codewords for: "Stop playing things I don't like, stupid!" from people who are the gamer equivalent of Birthers.

Every RPG has a certain level of dissonance/abstraction. These are ultimately necessary in order for the game portion to function. Stop tryign to assign value to them. In order for these concepts to mean anything, immersion would have to be an objective, measurable quality, which it is not.

I hear you, and I believe you are right that an RPG has abstraction, which is important to keep in mind (in fact, I just argued below that an RPG is built entirely of abstractions); however, I think you misunderstand the usefulness of the idea of dissonance. It allows me to tell you what abstract elements of the game are not working for me, and it allows you to do the same (which is a really good thing if you think of it).

Conversely, if there is such a thing as dissonance then there is also harmony, and harmony allows you to tell me what elements are particularly harmonious to you, and for me to do the same back.

So, I think you are right if you intend to say that there is no inherent value in players' responses to a game's abstract elements, but there is certainly subjective value in that we all react to a game's abstractions in different ways and should be able to share our valuation of different game elements so that our voices can be heard and the devs, the community, and the game itself (which is not a fixed object) can respond to us.

I hope you will not take this unkindly, but if you follow your thought through to conclusion, and if there is indeed no way at all to measure our responses to the game (our value-opinions, essentially), then I fail to see why we are playtesting at all. We should just let the devs hand us the game they want to hand us, don't you think? Is this political? Yes, very likely, but everything is politics on some level where there are groups of people with varied interests. There's no way around it, but I don't think that warrants comparing folks to Birthers...
Okay, so here's the thing. I don't like when I can't strategize (or tactics-ize?) in-character because my character's abilities don't make sense from his own perspective. Calling that "abstraction" is only accurate because EVERYTHING in D&D is an abstraction. You might as well just replace "abstraction" with "rules" or "mechanics." Let's take barbarian rages per day as an example: it doesn't make sense that a barbarian can rage, say, twice a day every day, whether those "rages" last for one round or forty, and regardless of his physical condition. You could fix this "bad abstraction" by making it more complex and detailed: let him rage X rounds per day, which is modified by his Con score. Or you could fix it by making it simpler: take the current playtest rage and just get rid of the daily limit, since you can only use it once per encounter already. So talking about it as an "abstraction" isn't particularly helpful and provides zero guidance, because "bad abstractions" aren't bad BECAUSE they are abstract; they're bad because of a mostly unrelated factor. 
you can pretty consistently see that no such events occur in any thread discussing a pre-4th editionism.   


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I think the purpose of abstraction in rpg's is because simulating the real world is impossible.  So any abstraction will cause dissonance if the players are unwilling to have a "suspension of disbelief".

Example:  I have no problem with Armor Class or hit points.  Very easy for me to grasp.  Some people swear that Armor Class isn't realistic because armor should absorb damage and not make the player harder to hit.  I say that the armor class is absorbing all damage or it is being bypassed through a chink in the armor.  Some players can't grasp that.  And similar things for hit points.  Armor Class isn't the number needed to hit, it is the number needed to hit and do damage.
I think the purpose of abstraction in rpg's is because simulating the real world is impossible.  So any abstraction will cause dissonance if the players are unwilling to have a "suspension of disbelief".



Why is it impossible, and why are we simulating the real world rather than the world of the fiction?

Example:  I have no problem with Armor Class or hit points.  Very easy for me to grasp.  Some people swear that Armor Class isn't realistic because armor should absorb damage and not make the player harder to hit.  I say that the armor class is absorbing all damage or it is being bypassed through a chink in the armor.  Some players can't grasp that.  And similar things for hit points.  Armor Class isn't the number needed to hit, it is the number needed to hit and do damage.



No, I grasp the argument perfectly well. To-Hit which actually means To-Damage is fine. That this requires that hit points represent only physical injury makes me laugh, because it implies human beings who survive injuries that kill several elephants. If that's the sort of thing that you like, go ahead, but don't expect it not to create dissonance among others, or imply that this is because they don't understand what's happening.

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Abstraction is the degree to which the model is simplified so that we can deal with it. It doesn't really have anything to do with any sort of dissociation between player and character.

I mean, feel free to introduce new terms to replace other terms that you dislike, but "abstract" is already spoken for, with its own distinct meaning. 
The metagame is not the game.
I think the purpose of abstraction in rpg's is because simulating the real world is impossible.  So any abstraction will cause dissonance if the players are unwilling to have a "suspension of disbelief".

Example:  I have no problem with Armor Class or hit points.  Very easy for me to grasp.  Some people swear that Armor Class isn't realistic because armor should absorb damage and not make the player harder to hit.  I say that the armor class is absorbing all damage or it is being bypassed through a chink in the armor.  Some players can't grasp that.


 Even if the adversary is some dragon who hits so hard looking for a chink is silly?
If you bash somebody in the head while wearing armor it still "rings their bell" ... and usually far less than without the armor but its certainly not on and off... black and white.
 
In effect you are redefining the word "hit" ... that somewhat encumbered knight in heavier armor in gets hit more often the game system says he gets hit less often... the lightly armored character gets hit more often.

Now if you can accept that "hit" doesnt mean "hit" not really .... then "damage" not really meaning damage ought to be fine, its a bloody double standard.
 
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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
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So this is the new thread.  Where I keep defining the term and some of you just keep not understanding.


Metagame dissonance is player dissonect from character.  The player takes action based upon knowledge his character does not have.   In a fantasy world, some elements that would create a disconnect can be fixed by using a magical explanation.  The magical explanation makes it so the character does have the knowledge that the player has.   Ultimately it still is about players knowing things characters don't know and making their characters act on that knowledge.   So metagame dissonance is an objective definition.  You just have to know what the player and character both know and why.

An abstraction is a mechanicism for relating something complex using simplier language.   For example in 1e, a round was one minute.   It was assumed there were many thrusts, feints, and parries.  The attack abstractly represented the best opportunity you got to do damage.  Now at this level the player and character are thinking the same thing.  They are both thinking - I'm attacking.   You could say the character is probably thinking more than that and thats true.   As a limitation on the game, not every conceivable thing the character knows or can do can be transfered across the wire to the player.   The key is that the player not play the character in a way that that character could not possibly behave given the knowledge he has.


I have said on numerous occasions that metagame dissonance is not a pejorative.  It is a description of mechanics that separate players and characters as I said above.   It is fine for players to act on abstract knowledge of the character because the character has the knowledge.   But it is not okay for characters to act on player knowledge that they do not have at all.   This is why for me hit points are fine.   Hit points are an abstraction and perhaps not the most realistic.   But the character communicates information about his injuries and fighting condition to the player via hit points.   The player then chooses to have the character act based on that information.   






I think the purpose of abstraction in rpg's is because simulating the real world is impossible.  So any abstraction will cause dissonance if the players are unwilling to have a "suspension of disbelief".



Why is it impossible, and why are we simulating the real world rather than the world of the fiction?

Example:  I have no problem with Armor Class or hit points.  Very easy for me to grasp.  Some people swear that Armor Class isn't realistic because armor should absorb damage and not make the player harder to hit.  I say that the armor class is absorbing all damage or it is being bypassed through a chink in the armor.  Some players can't grasp that.  And similar things for hit points.  Armor Class isn't the number needed to hit, it is the number needed to hit and do damage.



No, I grasp the argument perfectly well. To-Hit which actually means To-Damage is fine.


If to hit gets redefined ... damage not "really" being damage till the last stroke ought to be fine.
  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."

 

So this is the new thread. Where I keep defining the term and some of you just keep not understanding.

You need to take a step back from this condescention. It's not that people don't understand. It's that you're calling it objective and then trying to use it to claim that your other opinions are better. If anything, the way that you're using it has demonstrated that, even though you may have defined it well, you don't actually fully understand it and its implications. That's why you need to stop saying that people don't understand when they reach a different conclusion about it than you do. That's just making you sound like you think you're smarter than everybody else, which is only hurting your case. So calm down with trying to tell people they don't understand.

Also, WTF is up with you putting, like, five spaces after all of your sentences? I mean, I know some old people who started on typewriters originally learned two, but this is ridiculous. 

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
So, basically, this is like saying "criss-cross apple sauce" instead of "indian style" to prevent any hurt feelings.

Thanks, I'll stick with indian style, and I hope the people who whine about dissonant mechanics stick with their phrasing, too. You don't change words because of negative connotations. That's like avoiding using the word "niggardly" because ignorant people think it has something to do witth race.
That's like avoiding using the word "niggardly" because ignorant people think it has something to do witth race.

Interesting, because I think that people using that word, and pretending that they're just more clever than others even though they know full well exactly what it sounds like, are just as immature as middle school kids always talking about mastication, weinises, and Uranus. At least you can actually talk about Uranus seriously, but I pretty much only hear any of these others out of very immature people just trying to get a rise out of others and then childishly deny they meant anything by it.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!


Also, WTF is up with you putting, like, five spaces after all of your sentences? I mean, I know some old people who started on typewriters originally learned two, but this is ridiculous. 



I use ridiculous amounts of ellipses... so what I defend his desire for spaces.
  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 think Abstraction and "Metagame dissonance" are two separate things.

Short version:
Everything is an abstraction, but some abstractions cause abstraction dissonance, which abstractions those are is however subjective and varies from player to player.

Long version:
Everything or nearly everything is an abstraction in an TTRPG. Maybe dialog isn't, but everything else is an abstraction, otherwise it would be live action role playing (LARP) or something like that. Nobody is actually swinging a sword at a dragon or crawling through a dungeon during a D&D session.

I hope everyone can agree on that.

Now what seems to be causing the confusion and discussion is that metagame dissonnance/dissociation can be defined objectively, but is purely subjective. It is an effect in the player's mind that causes him/her to lose the suspension of disbelief that is required. (S)he can't imagine the thing that the abstraction is trying to represent. Maybe we should call is abstraction dissonance? Would that work?

The abstractions are necessary to play the game without it a TTRPG is impossible. In turn these abstractions cause various amounts of abstraction dissonance for different players. In turn this affects their enjoyment of the game.

Worded like that, I think it's important to try and minimize abstraction dissonance from a design standpoint as it will result in a game that's more enjoyable for more people.

You could call the opposite of abstraction dissonance: abstraction harmony. With abstraction harmony I mean an abstraction that does not distract people from their immersion in the game and makes the suspension of disbelieve easy to maintain.

P.S. I really don't have an axe to grind on this subject, I only think it's useful for the discussion if we have words like this to discribe what we feel we like and dislike about Next and other editions. I know everyone has their favourite editions, but we're trying to discuss an edition that doesn't exist yet, and for that we should try to come up with useful terms.

I think going from "I don't like hitpoints" to "To me hitpoints are a dissonant abstraction" improves the discussion as it is more precise in telling the audicence what the issue is that the author has. (using this as an example because every edition has hitpoints)

You can never claim that an abstraction is objectively dissonant, you can only claim that it is dissonant to you. And then others can say if they feel the same and make suggestions for changes and discuss how they feel about those changes. (hitpoints as meat vs. other options for example).

Let's try to get away from the personal attacks based on how different people imagine things. That's not going to get us a better D&D.

5e should strongly stay away from "I don't like it, so you can't have it either."

 

I once asked the question (in D&D 3.5) "Does a Druid4/Wizard3/ArcaneHierophant1 have Wildshape?". Jesse Decker and Andy Collins: Yes and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Rich Redman and Ed Stark: No and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Skip Williams: Lol, it's worded ambiguously and entirely not how I intended it. (Cust. Serv. Reference# 050815-000323)

As a separate post I want to give an example on how dissonance can work differently in various people.

I used to have a house/dorm mate who could not watch most movies because of his his trouble with special effects. Especially Science Fiction and Fantasy. For him it was particularly hard to maintain suspension of disbelief. He could never see an Elf or a Vulcan, to him it was a human with funny ear prostetics.

He could not even handle something like James Bond. His favourite movie was "A Few Good Men", which is indeed very low on special effects.

My point is that what is dissonant varies wildly from person to person, as most people have no trouble enjoying a movie with lot's of special effects.

I think most RPG players are on the end of the spectrum where they don't need a lot to get their imagination started. I just want to point ot that it can vary a lot from person to person. Let's try to avoid arguing over subjective feelings. What I think we can discuss is changes in description or mechanics and if those feel more or less dissonant.

5e should strongly stay away from "I don't like it, so you can't have it either."

 

I once asked the question (in D&D 3.5) "Does a Druid4/Wizard3/ArcaneHierophant1 have Wildshape?". Jesse Decker and Andy Collins: Yes and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Rich Redman and Ed Stark: No and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Skip Williams: Lol, it's worded ambiguously and entirely not how I intended it. (Cust. Serv. Reference# 050815-000323)

Interesting, because I think that people using that word, and pretending that they're just more clever than others even though they know full well exactly what it sounds like, are just as immature as middle school kids

And that's exactly what I think of people who demand vocabularies change for the sake of feelings. I won't change my vocabulary to avoid being misunderstood. I'll simply avoid talking to people who don't understand me.
C_C is not demanding that you change your vocabulary, but rather pointing out - accurately - that using such words with the intent of baiting people is immature and childish.  And, further, that the frequency with which they're used properly rather than for baiting is quite low.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
As opposed to calling people "immature and childish?"
C_C is not demanding that you change your vocabulary, but rather pointing out - accurately - that using such words with the intent of baiting people is immature and childish. And, further, that the frequency with which they're used properly rather than for baiting is quite low.

Bingo.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
C_C is not demanding that you change your vocabulary, but rather pointing out - accurately - that using such words with the intent of baiting people is immature and childish.  And, further, that the frequency with which they're used properly rather than for baiting is quite low.



We could call it anything we want,  and the end result would be the same.  You're "Baiting,  immature,  childish".

Because the problem isn't the word,  it's the topic,  and people don't want it discussed.  Since they have no grounds to shut down the discussion in any other way,  they pick a keyword that describes the issue and pretend to take offense in order to try and get the discussion shut down.

"Dissociative mechanics" is in no way perjaturive or offensive.  What it is, is a descriptor of a major game feature from 4th edition which is problematic to pre-4th edition players.  If we all start using Em's "Plot coupon" to describe the 4th editionism,  it'll be hours before people start claiming that's "Offense, baiting,  immature,  childish". 

Because it isn't the words used to describe it,  it's the act of discussing the 4th editionism that people don't want happening.
C_C is not demanding that you change your vocabulary, but rather pointing out -accurately - that using such words with the intent of baiting people is immature and childish. And, further, that the frequency with which they're used properly rather than for baiting is quite low.

See, personally, I think avoiding using those words because someone might misunderstand you is FAR worse than baiting.
Now, if you'll pardon me, I need to go masticate and ingurgitate my victuals.

Because it isn't the words used to describe it,  it's the act of discussing the 4th editionism that people don't want happening.

Well, it is hard to take that discussion seriously when the "4th editionism" up for debate is either true across many other editions of the game, and thus, not really an "editionism," or is seen as an improvement by just as many people as those who disapprove.

@mikemearls The office is basically empty this week, which opens up all sorts of possibilities for low shenanigans

@mikemearls In essence, all those arguments I lost are being unlost. Won, if you will. We're doing it MY way, baby.

@biotech66 aren't you the boss anyway? isn't "DO IT OR I FIRE YOU!" still an option?

@mikemearls I think Perkins would throat punch me if I ever tried that. And I'd give him a glowing quarterly review for it.

You know, I've spoken up on other threads on this issue, but haven't pointed one important thing out, that I went back to My old Interpersonal Communications and Debate teacher for clarification on, since nobody else has brought it up.

People have been swearing that some mechanics are Objectively Dissociative or Dissonant, and also pointing out that they dislike all such mechanics, not some, but 'all such'

The thing is, and My coach/teacher confirmed this, when I asked, when your presenting an argument from an Objective standpoint, you cannot go into the argument itself with a pre-conceptual value judgement on the argument. IE: If you think all these mechanics are inherantly ones you dislike, you have invalidated  your own objectivity in regards to the reflection on the mechanics in the first place. If you come in with a neutral belief as to whether such mechanics can be good or bad in different given situations, then you can possibly make an obective valuation judgement in regards to them.

Having several people agree with you on a matter doesn't make that opinion Objective, just makes it a subjective opinion that you happen to have found others that agree with you on. Just by stating you dislike "all dissociative mechanics" you have pointed out from the beginning that any opinion you put forth about said mechanics are by definition Subjective! 
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Check out MY eZine, Random Encounters Seuss (lordseussmd on YM)
We could call it anything we want, and the end result would be the same.

I was actually specifically going off-topic and talking about anderkrag's use of "niggardly". I don't think "dissonance" is that bad. Sorry for the confusion.

I think avoiding using those words because someone might misunderstand you is FAR worse than baiting.

Yes, how dare we consider other people, our audience, when we're trying to communicate with them? Look at you being so edgy for not caring what other people think. If only we could all be so mature.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!