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Author Topic: What's the most "simulationist" system you ever actually ran?  (Read 2361 times)

Trond

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For myself, I've been going towards simpler rules (for the most part) over time. I have run Rolemaster, which frankly is not that bad, especially not with a bit of houseruling. It tries to simulate some effects of armor and weapons and such. That other games ignore some such complications is understandable, although it can be fun.

So some games are fairly complex but doable, like Harnmaster I suppose? (correct me if I'm wrong). But I have heard of games that go almost all-out, with calculations of projectile trajectories etc.

I have also heard murmurs about Phoenix Command, but it doesn't sound like a full game to me? So a followup question would be; which complex "simulation" game actually worked for you?

Steven Mitchell

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What's the most "simulationist" system you ever actually ran?
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2020, 08:59:43 PM »
Runequest and GURPS probably are the most towards simulation I've done.  Though even then I tended to run them somewhat away from their center--i.e. ignoring some of the simulation aspects.

Trond

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What's the most "simulationist" system you ever actually ran?
« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2020, 09:11:02 PM »
Quote from: Steven Mitchell;1130768
Runequest and GURPS probably are the most towards simulation I've done.  Though even then I tended to run them somewhat away from their center--i.e. ignoring some of the simulation aspects.

I see what you mean; if I remember correctly GURPS does have those damage-increase-as-in-penetrates-armor-in-various-ways rules for instance.

jhkim

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What's the most "simulationist" system you ever actually ran?
« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2020, 09:14:50 PM »
I've played a fair bit of HarnMaster. I think there's a difference between a more  simulationist system and more complicated mechanics, though. I've been in a number of games using Fudge, Basic Roleplaying, and/or freeform diceless that were very simulationist in the sense of the GM aiming to use their judgement to simulate the game world.

In my experience, added complexity of mechanics often doesn't make the game better at simulation. It's often a case of losing the forest for the trees. So, for example, HarnMaster has pretty good mechanics for individual swings in combat, but I felt that the progress of combat as a whole still didn't match what I've read of real-world combat.

Spinachcat

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What's the most "simulationist" system you ever actually ran?
« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2020, 09:16:31 PM »
Twilight 2000 is probably the closest. Probably the only games where we counted ammo, rations, gas in the car, etc. When I switched over to Traveller as our TW2k rules, we handwaived more and went more action movie which is what the group wanted. Not superhero action movie, but gameplay with less minutiae.

However, I run the non-Mythos part of any Lovecraftian horror game VERY "simulationist". The mundane world is VERY mundane and if the PCs "act up" in the mundane world, they get the pushback of the mundane world. AKA, do you have a library card? If not, no Library Search roll for you! If you break and enter, there might be guards and cops and nosy citizens and all sorts of boring, mundane real world stuff that doesn't believe or care in your crazy stories about tentacled monsters being summoned by an underground cult.

In horror RPGing, I want stark separation between Normal Earth and Monster Earth. When the shiznack gets weird, I want a strong contrast in scenes.

Darrin Kelley

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What's the most "simulationist" system you ever actually ran?
« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2020, 09:18:50 PM »
Aftermath.
 

Trond

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What's the most "simulationist" system you ever actually ran?
« Reply #6 on: May 20, 2020, 09:22:29 PM »
Quote from: jhkim;1130770
I've played a fair bit of HarnMaster. I think there's a difference between a more  simulationist system and more complicated mechanics, though. I've been in a number of games using Fudge, Basic Roleplaying, and/or freeform diceless that were very simulationist in the sense of the GM aiming to use their judgement to simulate the game world.

In my experience, added complexity of mechanics often doesn't make the game better at simulation. It's often a case of losing the forest for the trees. So, for example, HarnMaster has pretty good mechanics for individual swings in combat, but I felt that the progress of combat as a whole still didn't match what I've read of real-world combat.

Sure, I can agree with that. I suppose it is more like two axes on a coordinate system with complexity being one and simulation another. Or perhaps that is too independent, in the sense that some systems are so simple that any "simulation" starts disappearing?

estar

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What's the most "simulationist" system you ever actually ran?
« Reply #7 on: May 20, 2020, 10:34:11 PM »
Quote from: Trond;1130758
So some games are fairly complex but doable, like Harnmaster I suppose? (correct me if I'm wrong). But I have heard of games that go almost all-out, with calculations of projectile trajectories etc.
Harnmaster is excellent due to the elegance of it mechanics and the terseness of it writing. However the crown in my case goes with GURPS.

Another RPG with a great design however the major challenge is going through the lists to get what you need. However one you have that and made a cheat sheet it runs smooths. Individual mechanics are not particularly complex nor laden with excessive modifiers. It just so many options.

estar

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What's the most "simulationist" system you ever actually ran?
« Reply #8 on: May 20, 2020, 10:37:17 PM »
Quote from: jhkim;1130770
I've played a fair bit of HarnMaster. I think there's a difference between a more  simulationist system and more complicated mechanics, though. I've been in a number of games using Fudge, Basic Roleplaying, and/or freeform diceless that were very simulationist in the sense of the GM aiming to use their judgement to simulate the game world.

In my experience, added complexity of mechanics often doesn't make the game better at simulation. It's often a case of losing the forest for the trees. So, for example, HarnMaster has pretty good mechanics for individual swings in combat, but I felt that the progress of combat as a whole still didn't match what I've read of real-world combat.


I found applying some of the house rules I mentioned other threads to be useful for HM Combat. But the biggest issue in recent versions of Harnmaster is the excessive shock rolls rolled to see you get stunned or go unconscious. So I use the shock roll math from 1e Harnmaster which makes combat more like what I read.

Kyle Aaron

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What's the most "simulationist" system you ever actually ran?
« Reply #9 on: May 20, 2020, 10:40:29 PM »
Quote from: jhkim;1130770
I've played a fair bit of HarnMaster. I think there's a difference between a more  simulationist system and more complicated mechanics, though.

Yes. I remember in high school physics I was struck by the distinction between accuracy and precision. If we say "Kyle is closer to 2m tall than 1m or 3m, and therefore is about 2m tall," this is accurate but not precise; if we say "Kyle is 1.8318484384m tall" this is precise but not accurate (I'm 1.78m). Often, precision is presented and perceived as accurate. If I give you a lot of numbers for something it tends to be more convincing than if I handwave.

However, in a game, a handwave may actually be better at simulating something. The first modern wargames between Prussian officers on game tables had no written rules at all so far as we know, but did have referees who said what could and couldn't be done, and adjudicated results. It is not reported what the officers thought of the realism of it all, but they kept doing it so it couldn't have been too awful.

Having no written rules or charts at all and simply having the GM decide the outcome of everything might actually lead to a better simulation of whatever setting you're after than hundreds of pages of rules. Thus the old school idea, "rulings more than rules."

For myself, I don't think rules or rulings alone give the best results, but a balance of the two. That's simply because what my idea of "a good simulation" of X may not be the same as yours. But if we agree on some rules, that's a start. So we have written rules to give the baseline, and rulings to allow adjustments on the fly. Roleplaying games are in practice a common law system.
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ffilz

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What's the most "simulationist" system you ever actually ran?
« Reply #10 on: May 20, 2020, 10:44:00 PM »
Yea, the "realism" or "simulation" label is tricky. I own (or did own, can't remember if I've sold it) Phoenix Command, but never tried to run it. I never bought Aftermath because of it's reputation.

I have run plenty of games with intricate mechanics. While I got started in RPGs with Holmes Basic, I soon migrated to Chivalry & Sorcery and worked through the magic system which is pretty intricate. RuneQuest has it's levels of intricacy though it really isn't that complex. My college friend's home brew, Cold Iron, had some intricate moving parts but it's really not THAT much more complex that RQ, it just looks scary due to some of the technical math in it (exponentials, logarithms, true normal distribution). As estar mentions, GURPS has tons of bits and bobs to sift through, and I never made it very far running it. I did try a sample combat or two with Harnmaster, but it wasn't the right system for the players I had a the time, with a different set of players I might have latched onto it (I certainly had bitten into Harn good and solid, having started subscribing from the start, now I'm almost Harnless...). Burning Wheel has different levels of complexity.

Each of those games made some kind of claim to more realism than D&D, but I'm not convinced you can't run just as realistic a game with D&D.

David Johansen

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What's the most "simulationist" system you ever actually ran?
« Reply #11 on: May 20, 2020, 11:57:07 PM »
Probably Daredevils, which is a subset of Aftermath's rules.  Traveller the New Era and GURPS are fairly simulationist.
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Kyle Aaron

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What's the most "simulationist" system you ever actually ran?
« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2020, 12:38:10 AM »
Quote from: ffilz;1130779
Each of those games made some kind of claim to more realism than D&D, but I'm not convinced you can't run just as realistic a game with D&D.
Or as realistic as anyone actually wants in play. I don't really want to do one combat and then need six months of physiotherapy, thanks very much :)
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jeff37923

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What's the most "simulationist" system you ever actually ran?
« Reply #13 on: May 21, 2020, 12:51:32 AM »
Traveller, various editions, especially when it comes to world building, vehicle design, or spacecraft design. You can get down to the absolute nitty gritty with all of those - but those tasks are often left for the GM to do. I've had success with this kind of setting creation being a a group affair similar to character creation.  It has worked well once all of the pieces are put together and while actually putting those pieces together. It definitely is not fun for everyone, mainly it appeals to techies and frustrated engineers.

Omega

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What's the most "simulationist" system you ever actually ran?
« Reply #14 on: May 21, 2020, 01:08:24 AM »
I think many RPGs have like one thing that they focus on simulating in detail and the rest might, or more oft, might not get as much detail.

AD&D with all the add-ons drifts more and more into that realm while still being very abstract in other places.

Some personal favourites are...

Albedo: A very harsh combat system and lots of rules for the psycological side of the wear and tear warfare puts on ones mental stability.

Universe: Its and SPI game, what do you expect? This has still my go-to for star system generation. Just wish the planet gen had been as robust.