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    Canonfire :: View topic - Fantasy vs. Realism
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    Fantasy vs. Realism
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    GreySage

    Joined: Sep 09, 2009
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    Sun Feb 10, 2013 8:16 am  
    Fantasy vs. Realism

    This came up in a thread (1e forum, Wolfling authored, entitled "Recovery after Unconsciousness") recently, and so I am presenting it before the General Forum community at large to partake in discussion:

    1) How much 'realism' do each of your interject into your fantasy-based games?

    2) Do you think it adds, or detracts, from the game? Why, or why not?

    3) Provide examples!

    -Lanthorn

    Note: For those of you who want to read the aforementioned thread that spawned the creation of this one, he is your link:
    http://www.canonfire.com/cf/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=5382&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Sun Feb 10, 2013 4:16 pm  

    I lean wayyyy more toward fantasy than realism when it comes to RPGs.

    I am a retired Infantryman of over 20 yrs, and I don't see any way to have any sort of campaign if combat was 'realistic'. Being wounded in a real fight is significant, and I do not see how an effective combat leader will escape injury in a sustained combat environment. I think most folks exposed to a decent amount of combat come to terms with death or injury, and adopt a "when it's my time, it's my time, but I'll fight like hell on the way out." But in so many instances, death or serious injury, or escaping such is almost a fluke. It is simply unpredictable, and no matter the explanation behind HPs, they are still "predictable" and a PC knows when their time is almost up. Obviously not so in real life.

    Also, suppressive fire is effective--only way to replicate that in a RPG would be to make everyone THINK they had 1-2 hp despite level. Whether I was a cherry in a firefight, or the "grizzled veteran" in the firefight, well aimed fire got my attention and kept my head low.

    I'm sure I'll think of other instances, but those two jumped to mind (had PCs 'bum rush' a line of Orc archers a few years back, that's what brought the suppressive fire instance to mind)
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Sun Feb 10, 2013 4:36 pm  

    Good points on combat. I don't worry too much about injecting realism into combat in D&D since it's already an abstract of combat, although I do try to have monsters react in the way they probably would react, or at least how I think they'd react. Unintelligent monsters will usually attack who is hurting them, not whoever is the biggest threat. Intelligent monsters, usually go for who they would most likely think is the biggest threat, or who has been demonstrated is the biggest threat. Likewise, monsters are not going to stay around and be killed. Monsters, both intelligent and unintelligent will flee when a fight goes against them. Only mindless creatures will always stay and fight to the death. I've never understood DMs who have intelligent monsters that are usually described as 'cowardly' stay and fight to the last man when they can try and run away. As far as suppressive fire, one thing I will say for archers in 4e is that I've seen quite a few of them that can do pretty impressive damage, compared to other editions. Orc archers are usually a thing to be feared and you want to take them out as quickly as possible.
    Outside of combat is where realism usually comes in. I don't account for every CP, but generally players are going to have to spend money on 'living expenses' in between adventures, and take care of rations and shelter while in the wilderness or traveling. I also try to inject some elements of everyday life (in a magical medieval society) into the game in some way, although it's mostly glossed over, not bogging down the game with unnecessary (at least by the definition of most of the people I play with) role-playing. One house-rule I've mentioned before it that I don't use raise dead or resurrection, at least not called as such.
    Adept Greytalker

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    Mon Feb 11, 2013 9:07 am  

    I try and keep a balance between the two. I find a dose of realism helps make the situations more believable for the players, I like to explore what being a hero out on an adventure might really be like - how long is the elf sorceress's beautifully coiffed hair going to remain that way? I want the players to feel grimy, and scared and whatever else to provide a slightly darker feel to the game.

    BUT - the fact that it's a game is significant. Most of the people I know who play rpgs do so to escape from the reality of daily life. It's escapism and at the end of the day the players should enjoy themselves so a healthy balancing dollop of fantasy allows them to feel good. To look cool on the battlefield from time to time and take a blow that would kill a normal man - because they're not just anyone - they're the heroes of the story.

    With regards to battles - I only describe critical damage as actual injuries, everything else is represented by minor scrapes, leaping out of the way, luck etc. When their hit points run out they are getting tired / their luck is running out et cetera. I like the way it makes battles feel.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Mon Feb 11, 2013 10:02 am  

    When I DM I want my players to be challenged and to have a good time. And over the years I've found that storytelling is the key to good DMing. That said;
    Combat and magic - ya just can't be realistic without sucking the life out of game. It's fantasy combat, and fantasy magic. I mean a good archer can drop the mightiest swordsman with a single normal arrow irl, right? And magic? Well, speaking as a Pagan, it just don't work like dat!
    But making the players accountable for the weight they carry, the coins they spend (including the aggravation of having to take their coins from Ull to the moneychanger and finding lead Drabs here and there), as well as the many mundane details of medeival life...I find that new players may complain at first, but soon they dig it!
    I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir, but it really pays to do your research. I've read enough medeival history as well as classic and renaissance - and not just European - to last a few lifetimes. But it has paid off, and not just in my gaming life.
    So...
    there.
    GreySage

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    Mon Feb 11, 2013 10:16 am  

    I agree with the majority that there needs to be a balance. I try to include realism in the checks I have PCs make to succeed at fantastic actions.

    I very much agree with Wolfling's quote below. D&D always was, and still is, my escape from reality. Cool

    Wolfling wrote:
    BUT - the fact that it's a game is significant. Most of the people I know who play rpgs do so to escape from the reality of daily life. It's escapism and at the end of the day the players should enjoy themselves so a healthy balancing dollop of fantasy allows them to feel good. To look cool on the battlefield from time to time and take a blow that would kill a normal man - because they're not just anyone - they're the heroes of the story.


    SirXaris
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    Mon Feb 11, 2013 3:27 pm  

    I agree with all.

    A certain amount of realism is necessary, if anything but to provide predictability. Thank goodness for the various spells that make elemental extremes bearable, because bad weather makes wussies of us all!

    As a player, most of my characters were geared toward humor/light-hearted entertainment (thieves in 1e & swashbucklers in 2e...I did play a barbarian who only punched things for a bit in 1e, but that character passed on fairly quickly) and as a DM I go for entertainment for the group first (suspense, good action, humor, whatever), "good plot" second, fairness third, and reality last. Well, at least that's how I hope it pans out in the objective view.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Mon Feb 11, 2013 3:53 pm  

    I concur, having some realism in the game promotes consistency. I find the biggest challenge is combat because - and I'll admit, I'm not always the most prepared DM - when you have multiple participants on the side of the monsters, even if you have a script of when they might attack, flee, parley, etc. you don't control what the players are doing. I find my realism is applied mostly outside of combat during interactions with NPCs, etc. And of course those moments when a player tries to do something ludicrous like jump off a 200' cliff fleeing a horde of orcs and trying to break their fall (non-Monk PC of course!). Just give me a roll... :)

    Last edited by Elliva on Mon Feb 11, 2013 3:57 pm; edited 1 time in total
    GreySage

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    Mon Feb 11, 2013 3:54 pm  

    OK, my turn to chime in, methinks.

    Balance is important for sure. Beory would be proud of us all on that score. Happy

    I guess sometimes I let my scientific mind get the best of me and interject more realism than some would otherwise prefer. Wink Typically this is not too much of an issue, but my main player and I have gotten into some 'debates' about various topics, many of which have been posted on Canonfire! Happy I always value input, even if I disagree. It is good to get a multiplicity of views.

    I primarily add the dimension of realism in my human component of emotions and psyche (what makes the character tick, how they interact with others, overcome setbacks, etc) because I pride myself in ROLE-playing, the effects of the wilderness (elements, wildlife, need for sustenance, etc), behavioral and ecological aspects of animals/monsters/humanoids, and some things that most people consider minutiae (monies and finances, encumbrance, etc). I know it may not work for most players and DMs...

    Things like combat need to have some essence of reality...to me. I know, as was mentioned earlier, that 'true' combat cannot truly be replicated, but I want the feeling and distinct sense of mortality to be conveyed. You CAN still be killed by a 1-1 HD goblin (even if on a chance crit roll)... Evil Grin

    Maybe I lean too much to the realism side than most. Embarassed

    -Lanthorn
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    Mon Feb 11, 2013 6:36 pm  

    One historian pointed out that the amazing things about Alexander the Great was not that he died young at 33, but that he lived that long, considering the number of serious wounds he sustained and diseases he was exposed to. Combat in pre-modern times was extremely dangerous, and not just in the throes of action, but in the aftermath as wounds got infected. I do not really think that would be a fun game. The abstract, heroic fnatasy combat system works fine for me.

    Where realism is great is designing the setting. I like to incorporate economics (micro and macro), politics, and just general human, demihuman, and humaoid nature into the world. Peasants and serfs lead mean lives with crude furniture and always worry about eating enough. Labor is hard and ever-present. These are things that I try to work in, with limited fantastic elements in the background.
    The fun is incorporating the fantastic into this. I like magic, while not unknown, to be, well, magical to the average peasant or laborer. A setting where most people live lives of drudgery makes the adventures of the players more exciting, and certainly helps their reputation at the next inn.
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Tue Feb 12, 2013 8:03 am  

    tarelton wrote:
    Where realism is great is designing the setting. I like to incorporate economics (micro and macro), politics, and just general human, demihuman, and humaoid nature into the world. Peasants and serfs lead mean lives with crude furniture and always worry about eating enough. Labor is hard and ever-present. These are things that I try to work in, with limited fantastic elements in the background.
    The fun is incorporating the fantastic into this. I like magic, while not unknown, to be, well, magical to the average peasant or laborer. A setting where most people live lives of drudgery makes the adventures of the players more exciting, and certainly helps their reputation at the next inn.


    This. My personal preference is that even the kind of magic that might come from organizations that would use it to benefit the poor -- clergy of Pelor and other such gods -- is still rare. Not every village has a cleric who can magically heal Hobb the Miller's son (And the miller's son is probably better off than most) when he gets his leg crushed by a cart wheel. In most cases he'll be lucky to get someone with some training in healing who can put him in the best possible situation for it to heal naturally, and will probably be lame for the rest of his life. It's a feudal society. By modern standards life is remarkably unfair and is, even with magic inserted into the mix, and with apologies to Hobbes, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.
    GreySage

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    Sat Feb 16, 2013 9:08 am  

    The infusion of magic surely puts a spin on the flavor of a medieval campaign. Depending on the accessibility of clerical and wizardly magic in your campaign world, certain realistic aspects of a medieval world will be either commonplace or rare.

    For instance, take diseases and injuries. In the real world, such things were absolutely devastating to populations, even if you ignore the 'poster child' of death and disease that was the Black Plague of the Dark Ages. Disease, injury, malnutrition, and death during childbirth was not all that uncommon in our (not so?) distant human past.

    Now, introduce clerical healing magic, and much of that is greatly mitigated. Curative magick practically negates those impacts. Cure disease, cure blindness/deafness, regeneration...depending on the power and availability of your priests, you can well imagine that such effects are reduced to the extent that we see with current modern medicine. Maybe even better! Happy No diagnostic tests needed, no extensive screens, or repeat doctor visits. Just call upon your local cleric, or go to where one exists, and if you are 'worthy' of such a benediction, you are HEALED, my son! Laughing

    Of course, this opens up the discussion, perhaps for ANOTHER thread, about the use of clerical magic, its prevalence, its judicious or widespread use, etc., etc., etc.

    This is just the surface, too. Clerics are capable (depending on their Spheres of Access) to call upon a wide array of divine powers beyond healing people of injury and disease (or bring from the dead!). Some can increase the fertility of plants and animals (people too, I'd imagine), summon forth beneficial weather, shape wood or stone, create fire/water, and so on. Imagine how this can help in so many practical ways that the 'real world' of medieval Earth! Shocked

    Now, let us add wizards to the scene. With their own dazzling repertoire of spells, not all of which are of a combat or defensive nature, think of how even a basic mage can help his/her community (for a fee, good deed, whatever). Especially glance through the list of Alteration spells, and you can well see the benefits.

    So, in my mind, with all this mentioned, our 'medieval' game is already greatly 'modernized.' Not with technology and science, but with magic, both divine and arcane in nature.

    -Lanthorn
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    Sat Feb 16, 2013 10:45 am  

    Using our real world as an example, I just don't see clerics being very forthcoming with healing for those who cannot pay. From ancient times until now, organized religions have been VERY tightfisted with money and resources that might alleviate suffering. From the multi-billion dollar art collections of the Vatican to the Rolls Royce-driven ministers, mullahs and gurus, cupidity, venality and meanness seem the norm. The exceptions like St. Francis, Ghandi or Mother Theresa prove the rule.
    But in a fantasy world, I hope for shining heroics among heroes and theatrical villainy from the villains! In my campaigns, the Flanaess is a better place than medeival Earth - not just in that Magic exists in a more palpable way, but in that the gods are more present, and that they hold their servants more to account.
    That's just my two drabs.
    GreySage

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    Sat Feb 16, 2013 1:56 pm  

    bugsy wrote:
    ...and that they hold their servants more to account.


    Pardon the obvious pun, but AMEN to that sentiment!

    -Lanthorn
    Paladin

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    Sat Feb 16, 2013 5:25 pm  

    bugsy wrote:
    Using our real world as an example, I just don't see clerics being very forthcoming with healing for those who cannot pay.


    Yes and no... remeber there can be differing forms of payment... lots of barter I'm sure.. a percentage of crop for the abbey in exchange for some rain? etc.... Also, there are more "beliefs" offered to a populace, and in many cases, you may as a average "joe" pay homage to some on holidays, some on planting days, others still if in need.... not to say that some beliefs don't take thier tithe, but it doesn't have to be the norm.

    2cp
    GreySage

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    Sat Feb 16, 2013 8:39 pm  

    bugsy wrote:
    But in a fantasy world, I hope for shining heroics among heroes and theatrical villainy from the villains! In my campaigns, the Flanaess is a better place than medeival Earth - not just in that Magic exists in a more palpable way, but in that the gods are more present, and that they hold their servants more to account.
    That's just my two drabs.


    I agree with this. In my campaign, clerics, wizards, and other individuals with more than a few levels in any character class are exceptional individuals who must overcome extreme circumstances and trials to attain such levels. Many villages may have a few warriors and a fighter or two with up to three levels and a cleric/druid/wizard/etc. of equal level. Such levels are attainable by average individuals who spend their lives safely in a village. But, to reach higher levels of skill, they must adventure. Such people are much rarer. Thus, most villages may have a few practiced warriors to defend/police and a low-level healer or two, but such small communities are very unlikely to have a Cyrano D'Bergerac as the captain of the guard, a Conan as the local tavern owner, a Merlin in the tower at the end of the lane, or a Bishop Theodoric Borgognoni leading weekly prayers and healing broken arms at the local temple.

    In the fantasy world of Greyhawk, it may be convenient to take a child that fell out of a tree to the local cleric for a 1st level Cure Light Wounds spell, but that is not very different from the local healer in a real world Medieval village that could set the bone, split the arm, and allow it to heal properly in a couple of months. Such a clerical healer would be even less likely to know how to use such real world, mundane, methods to help a group of people that were all injured at the same time when, say, a barn collapsed on them all or a herd of cattle spooked and stampeded through town. The fantasy cleric could help two or three with spells, but the rest would suffer for days until the cleric could regain enough spells to help them all. Remember, the availability of magic lessens the need for science (necessity is the mother of invention Wink ).

    So, no the fantasy world is not able to produce enough high level clerics and wizards (spellcasters) to equal the real world in its modern conveniences. Specifically because attaining such power is extremely difficult. Secondly, because the availability of magic - even in such small amounts - prevents people from seeing the need for mundane inventions, so the inspiration is lacking. Instead, the common mindset is that "We need more spellcasters!" Shocked "But, darn it, we just don't have the time or ability to become one ourselves." Sad

    SirXaris


    Last edited by SirXaris on Sat Feb 23, 2013 7:36 pm; edited 1 time in total
    GreySage

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    Sun Feb 17, 2013 8:38 am  

    SirXaris wrote:
    Remember, the availability of magic lessens the need for science (necessity is the mother of invention Wink ).


    SX, this is one of the most logical statements I've read in a while. Happy
    It does bear to reason that technological advancements may suffer in a world where magic is used to create, shape, and fashion items and objects. But...is it possible that magic, rather than being used instead of utilizing craftsmanship, merely bolsters and augments the pre-existing skill base? Or that the two are used in tandem to produce various works? I especially see this for elves. Nonetheless, your basic argument is quite sound, SX!

    Quote:
    So, no the fantasy world is not able to produce enough high level clerics and wizards (spellcasters) to equal the real world in its modern conveniences.


    Forgotten Realms aside, this may be true. However, I would argue this depends upon where you live in the Flanaess, not to mention which race or culture to which you are referring. Just look at the City of Greyhawk. There are PLENTY of individuals there who could use their magical powers and skills to turn that city into a veritable 'treasure trove' of products, items, and crafts. Maybe CoG is the exception rather than the rule, but merely perusing most larger communities from my own list of guides and supplements makes me think that magic is not so rare in the 'traditional' Greyhawk setting.

    Great discussion, posters. Keep 'em coming, and thanks for your contributions to my thread.

    -Lanthorn
    GreySage

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    Sun Feb 17, 2013 1:26 pm  

    Lanthorn wrote:
    Quote:
    So, no the fantasy world is not able to produce enough high level clerics and wizards (spellcasters) to equal the real world in its modern conveniences.


    Forgotten Realms aside, this may be true. However, I would argue this depends upon where you live in the Flanaess, not to mention which race or culture to which you are referring. Just look at the City of Greyhawk. There are PLENTY of individuals there who could use their magical powers and skills to turn that city into a veritable 'treasure trove' of products, items, and crafts. Maybe CoG is the exception rather than the rule, but merely perusing most larger communities from my own list of guides and supplements makes me think that magic is not so rare in the 'traditional' Greyhawk setting.


    I must have failed to include this in my lengthy post above, but I would say that, even in a metropolitan area like you noted above, the cost of magic prevents it's proliferation. The commonfolk would lack the means to pay for common use of magic for everyday life and the powerful spellcasters would, therefore, have little motivation to pay such a cost themselves. Thus, magical convenience would remain the privilege of the wealthy and/or powerful only.

    SirXaris
    GreySage

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    Mon Feb 18, 2013 8:19 am  

    Another valid counterpoint, SX (put a point in your debate skill).

    In that case, science wouldn't necessarily take a back seat to magic. If only the 'rich and powerful' can access magic to sculpt, craft, and fashion certain items, then technological innovations could still be 'the norm' for the rank and file commonfolk, artisans, and craftsmen.

    Additionally, most magical dweomers can be negated with a successful Dispel, thereby ruining the item or object completely. Imagine magic used to create a fortification only to have an enemy caster (or mischievious person) throw a successfull Dispel at it! This is reason enough to use common, mundane methods for most construction endeavors.

    Science wins. Cool

    -Lanthorn
    GreySage

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    Mon Feb 18, 2013 12:07 pm  

    Lanthorn wrote:
    In that case, science wouldn't necessarily take a back seat to magic. If only the 'rich and powerful' can access magic to sculpt, craft, and fashion certain items, then technological innovations could still be 'the norm' for the rank and file commonfolk, artisans, and craftsmen.


    I agree that this is valid. However, I recall another bit of Dark Ages/Medieval history that would seem to apply to invention even in a fantasy setting. That is, that invention requires the availability of leisure time. Historically, the Renaissance occured because the European economy had risen to the point that there was a true middle class. This class of people had all they needed and could take leisure time to pursue hobbies not necessary to survival, like art, music, and inventing. Thus, the pace of scientific invention in the World of Greyhawk should depend (among other things, as discussed already) on how large the middle class is in that setting. If your Flanaess is largely a Dark Ages setting, there would be very little invention outside of weapons, armor, and castles (necessary inventions due to the dangers of the setting) as most people will be either nobles or dirt poor peasants slaving away from sun up until sun down. If your Flanaess is a High Middle Ages or Renassaince setting, there should be a greater amount of scientific devices available, though this will still be at a slower pace because of the convenient availability of magic. Note that expensive magic would be available to the very people that would be most likely to have the leisure time to invent.

    Quote:
    Additionally, most magical dweomers can be negated with a successful Dispel, thereby ruining the item or object completely. Imagine magic used to create a fortification only to have an enemy caster (or mischievious person) throw a successfull Dispel at it! This is reason enough to use common, mundane methods for most construction endeavors.


    True. That's why castles are built of real stone, even if the builder is rich and/or powerful enough to have it built out of Walls of Stone made Permanent. Smile

    SirXaris
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    Thu Feb 21, 2013 4:31 am  

    I love this direction the discussion is going.

    I think the question; would magic stunt the growth of scientific discovery, is a really interesting one. As is the topic of clerics and healing the masses.

    For me, the heroes of Oerth are exceptional. They're ability scores are often much higher than the normal population who tend to be an array of 7s, 8,s, 9s, 10s up to maybe a 13 if they're lucky.

    With regards to clerical healing of the masses. In 2nd ed you don't need a very high Wisdom to be a cleric, a 9 in fact. I imagine that most of the non speciality priest clergy would be lucky to have Wisdoms higher than a 12 or 13. A cleric with a Wisdom of 9 has a 20% chance of spell failure and I think it needs to be a Wisdom of 12 to have 0% chance of failure.

    In 3rd ed your Wisdom limits the level of spell you can cast. You need a Wisdom of 13 for example to cast 3rd level spells, 14 for 4th etc.

    The average village priest, not only will gain levels slowly but they have the penalties of a mediocre Widom to deal with. Say a village is wracked by plague - a couple of cure disease spells a day wont make much difference (and that's provided the priest can even cast it).

    What if a higher level priest is giving out cure blindness, cure disease etc for free. Word would surely spread and before long the poor cleric is inundated by folk begging for salvation from their ailments putting the priest in a difficult situation that could turn nasty. Even a good-aligned priest should think twice about handing out free healing.

    Also, especially with regards to disease. If a population is always healed by magic will they ever build a resistance to such things? The more magic used perhaps the sicklier the population becomes?

    In addition there will be people in the world that resent magic for whatever reason. Or people who value hard work over the easy option. Invention and science still have a real purpose and need in a fantasy world.

    Perhaps scientific progress would be slowed down slightly but I don't think it would be greatly reduced. For me magic is the domain of an elite. Some isolated rural villagers may never have seen it in practice or associate it with dark things. In history how many great magical events are associated with weal and not woe. The Flight of Fiends? Put that triumph for good against the Invoked Devastations, the sorcery of the Occluded Empire of Vecna, the demons of Iuz and devils of the Horned Society, the Temple of Elemental Evil, the machinations of Iggwilv. Magic is a thing of fear and mistrust to many. Give the commonfolk a choie I'd say they only want magic around to fight off bad magic. Given a choice they'd rather have neither. Some people might even prefer to visit the local herbalist than the local priest.
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Sat Feb 23, 2013 9:27 am  

    Wow. Took me a while to work through all this. Since there are two broad topics, and I'm still working on the one, I split them. Here's the combat/game mechnaics one:

    jtylerk wrote:
    ...I am a retired Infantryman of over 20 yrs, and I don't see any way to have any sort of campaign if combat was 'realistic'... But in so many instances, death or serious injury, or escaping such is almost a fluke. It is simply unpredictable, and no matter the explanation behind HPs, they are still "predictable" and a PC knows when their time is almost up. Obviously not so in real life...


    -I think the game mechanic came with fencing in mind, not missle weapons. If we had to do it all over again, the D&D family game mechanic would have been that training/experience makes it less likely to get hit, but getting hit still effects a 9th level guy in roughly the same way as a 1st level guy. Essentially, every possible hit involves a saving throw. FWIW, I think D&D 3.5 Unearthed Arcana has a variant like that.

    jtylerk wrote:
    ... It is simply unpredictable, and no matter the explanation behind HPs, they are still "predictable" and a PC knows when their time is almost up. Obviously not so in real life...


    -For most people in the Flaneass, as in real life, one crossbow bolt is enough to ruin your day.

    jtylerk wrote:
    ...Also, suppressive fire is effective--only way to replicate that in a RPG would be to make everyone THINK they had 1-2 hp despite level...


    -Most things cause a lot more than 1-2 hit points, particularly if you throw in critical hits, bonus damage for skills, etc.

    jtylerk wrote:
    ... Whether I was a cherry in a firefight, or the "grizzled veteran" in the firefight, well aimed fire got my attention and kept my head low.

    I'm sure I'll think of other instances, but those two jumped to mind (had PCs 'bum rush' a line of Orc archers a few years back, that's what brought the suppressive fire instance to mind)


    -Sometimes the bum rush worked (and works) in real life. There's a laundry list of examples, pick an era. Whether people risk it depends on what rules usually call "morale", buit actually involves a a lot more.

    There's a difference between an AKM (or even a pistol) and the longbow. Not that I'd want to get hit with an arrow, but bullets usually inflict a lot more damage, and there's realtively little which will stop it.

    Morale rules can work for suppressive fire, and can work for "closing the distance" as well. But, yeah, it's not perfect.

    Maybe this is a better point: In the Flaneass, as in The Real World, most people are 1st or 2nd level. A 3rd level charachter is a "grizzled veteran", and that appelation could even apply to a 2nd level Fighter, too (do the math of how many enemies they'd probably have to kill/wound/capture/panic/etc. to rack up 2,000 XP). One critical hit will take them down to negative hit points, and sometimes straight to -10 (that's even more so with a 7.62 mm round in TRW).

    When you talk about 4th level characters, you're in rarefied territory, at least in AD&D1. I once tallied up the experience points which the Red Baron (Von Richtofen) would have had when he was killed. Based on his likely aerial kills (80 planes shot down), the XP of the guys in those planes (more than 80, since there were twin seaters); each man rated as one or two levels higher for being in a flying machine with machine guns), tossing in Richtofen's time as a cavalryman on the Eastern and Western Fronts in 1914, some big game hunting, and a few XPs for facing "ordinary danger" (disease, weather, potentially lethal training, etc), and at most, he would have been a 5th level fighter, and possibly as low as 3rd. So the most famous fighter pilot in history would find the Steading of the Hill Giant Chief a little too tough to participate in as anything other than a spear caddy. AD&D2 fixes that a little with story points, and there's no problem in D&D 3.5, but 4th level characters are still rare.

    But lets take guys like Audie Murphy or Charlie Upham, who (in D&D terms) were certainly 4th level or higher later in their careers. What you find is that these guys acted as if they somehow did know how many points they had left. Charlie Upham actually claimed that he never took an outrageous risk, it just looked that way to others. In game terms, he knew exactly what he could get away with (i.e., he somehow knew how many hit points based on skill and experience he had left). I figure that having that sort of attitude (never checking morale) and AWARENESS is more important than cool stats in separating even a 1st level PC from almost any NPC.

    tarelton wrote:
    ... Combat in pre-modern times was extremely dangerous, and not just in the throes of action, but in the aftermath as wounds got infected. I do not really think that would be a fun game....


    -In the Flaneass, anyway, healing magic is common enough to keep the equivalent of Alexander the Great form dying of infection.

    I also assume that the setting is not medieval, but quasi-medieval. One of the things I've modified is that people have a better understanding of hygiene and sanitation. After all, priests just have to commune with Delleb to find out that the 4 Humors Theory is a crock.

    That does not neccessarily mean that everyone practices good sanitation....
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Sat Feb 23, 2013 10:01 am  

    jamesdglick wrote:
    In the Flaneass, anyway, healing magic is common enough to keep the equivalent of Alexander the Great form dying of infection.

    I also assume that the setting is not medieval, but quasi-medieval. One of the things I've modified is that people have a better understanding of hygiene and sanitation. After all, priests just have to commune with Delleb to find out that the 4 Humors Theory is a crock.

    That does not necessarily mean that everyone practices good sanitation....


    I think a lot of the variance that comes up in these kind of debates seems to be based on individual basic perceptions about the nature of the world and gods as they relate to GH. In one person's GH, the reality of medicine is based on the RW. Likewise the idea that gods are omniscient is (to my thinking) based on many modern perceptions of what a god should be. In another person's GH, maybe Greek and Medieval perceptions of medicine IS the reality, just as gods are not omniscient, but are very human-like in how they perceive the universe.
    I haven't thought much about the medicine question, but my gods are definitely more like the pagan gods of old. They're very powerful and many of them are very smart, but that doesn't mean that their knowledge compares to even many things that we take for granted as common knowledge in the RW.
    GreySage

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    Sat Feb 23, 2013 10:09 am  

    Wolfling wrote:

    Also, especially with regards to disease. If a population is always healed by magic will they ever build a resistance to such things? The more magic used perhaps the sicklier the population becomes?


    The Spirit of Charles Darwin applauds your observation. Happy

    -Lanthorn, Science Teacher
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    Sat Feb 23, 2013 10:40 am  

    Lanthorn wrote:
    ...Imagine how this can help in so many practical ways that the 'real world' of medieval Earth! Shocked

    So, in my mind, with all this mentioned, our 'medieval' game is already greatly 'modernized.' Not with technology and science, but with magic, both divine and arcane in nature...


    -I always say that the Flaneass is quasi-medieval, not medieval, for that reason.

    tarelton wrote:
    ... Where realism is great is designing the setting. I like to incorporate economics (micro and macro), politics, and just general human, demihuman, and humaoid nature into the world. Peasants and serfs lead mean lives with crude furniture and always worry about eating enough. Labor is hard and ever-present. These are things that I try to work in, with limited fantastic elements in the background...


    -FWIW, I assume a 10 hour/day, 5 day's a week work standard in most places.

    Anyone got a different standard?

    Wolfling wrote:
    ... Perhaps scientific progress would be slowed down slightly but I don't think it would be greatly reduced...


    -I work on a 2 years in the Flaneass = 1 year advance in TRW, with caveats.

    tarelton wrote:
    ... The fun is incorporating the fantastic into this. I like magic, while not unknown, to be, well, magical to the average peasant or laborer. A setting where most people live lives of drudgery makes the adventures of the players more exciting, and certainly helps their reputation at the next inn.


    ...and...

    Wolfling wrote:
    ...I think the question; would magic stunt the growth of scientific discovery, is a really interesting one... Perhaps scientific progress would be slowed down slightly but I don't think it would be greatly reduced. For me magic is the domain of an elite. Some isolated rural villagers may never have seen it in practice or associate it with dark things. In history how many great magical events are associated with weal and not woe... Magic is a thing of fear and mistrust to many. Give the commonfolk a choie I'd say they only want magic around to fight off bad magic. Given a choice they'd rather have neither. Some people might even prefer to visit the local herbalist than the local priest...


    -I agree that the average peasant isn't slinging spells, but they do have access to them in the broader sense. Any farmer can benefit when spellcsters cast plant growth, weather controlling or pest controlling spells on their fields.

    Everyone benefits when a spellcaster cures a sick person before they become contagious, eliminating a vector.

    But people do tend to remember the bad longer than the good.

    In the same way that most people in The Real World don't understand rocket science, but nonetheless benefit from it to a certain extent, I assume that even the serfs are a little better off than their historical counterparts, who themselves weren't always as badly off as we often imagine.

    Lanthorn wrote:
    ...For instance, take diseases and injuries. In the real world, such things were absolutely devastating to populations, even if you ignore the 'poster child' of death and disease that was the Black Plague of the Dark Ages. Disease, injury, malnutrition, and death during childbirth was not all that uncommon in our (not so?) distant human past.

    Now, introduce clerical healing magic, and much of that is greatly mitigated...

    Of course, this opens up the discussion, perhaps for ANOTHER thread, about the use of clerical magic, its prevalence, its judicious or widespread use, etc., etc., etc...


    -Try the Gutenberg thread.

    Wolfling wrote:
    ...The average village priest, not only will gain levels slowly but they have the penalties of a mediocre Widom to deal with. Say a village is wracked by plague - a couple of cure disease spells a day wont make much difference (and that's provided the priest can even cast it)...


    -Using any edition, 5th level clerics are rare ("Cure/Remove Disease").

    Wolfling wrote:
    ...Also, especially with regards to disease. If a population is always healed by magic will they ever build a resistance to such things? The more magic used perhaps the sicklier the population becomes?


    -THAT is an interesting question.

    The really quick and deadly stuff, where even those who have relatively easy access might not get "Heal"ed in time would weed out the non-immune, but more slowly.

    You had something in mind? Evil Grin

    smillan_31 wrote:
    ...I haven't thought much about the medicine question, but my gods are definitely more like the pagan gods of old. They're very powerful and many of them are very smart, but that doesn't mean that their knowledge compares to even many things that we take for granted as common knowledge in the RW.


    -Yeah, Iuz doesn't exactly seem omniscient... Razz

    In game terms: However, in this case, I think many deities (particularly Delleb) would have figured out what Pasteur and Lister figured out an tell their followers. Delleb's priests would definitiely have spread the word.

    I real terms: I figured my players know the real deal, so I'm not going to get anyone to shell out the nobles to get a good bleeding, so...

    smillan_31 wrote:
    ... In another person's GH, maybe Greek and Medieval perceptions of medicine IS the reality, just as gods are not omniscient, but are very human-like in how they perceive the universe...


    -The idea that the 4 humors theory really works is one I hadn't even considered, although I do allow astrology to work (which I don't buy for TRW).

    Wolfling wrote:
    ...In addition there will be people in the world that resent magic for whatever reason. Or people who value hard work over the easy option. Invention and science still have a real purpose and need in a fantasy world...


    -Hmmm... to what extent is becoming a spellcaster the easy route?

    smillan_31 wrote:
    ...I think a lot of the variance that comes up in these kind of debates seems to be based on individual basic perceptions about the nature of the world and gods as they relate to GH... In another person's GH, maybe Greek and Medieval perceptions of medicine IS the reality, just as gods are not omniscient, but are very human-like in how they perceive the universe...


    -This thread and the Gutenberg thread have certainly revealed some different interpreatations of magic, science, and technology. Up until now, the only big difference from one DM's version to another DM's version is the hoary Gunpowder issue.

    (I don't buy the "Chemistry is Different in the Flaneass" line:

    http://greyhawkery.blogspot.com/2012/01/blackpowder-weapons-in-greyhawk.html

    1. Dragon Magazine #71/1983 Glossography: Murlynd, an original character from Gygax's own home campaign is a quasi-deity with "6-shooters" (acquired from another plane) that only function on Oerth due to his "magical aura".
    2. Murlynd is promoted to hero-god of Magical Technology in 2nd edition's Slavers. He has few priests but they can take a firearms proficiency and those who gain high level may use smokepowder normally implying they acquired the same aura as Murylnd.
    3. 3rd edition's Dragon Magazine #306 introduced the paladin variant, White Paladins who can take the feat "Secret of the Firebrands" which is essentially the same ability open to 2e priests of Murlynd. There is a note in the article about Murlynd struggling against St Kargoth (the main death knight in Greyhawk) over an item called the "Quannon".
    4. Dragon Magazine #263: One depiction of Delleb, Oeridian god of reason and intellect is of an armored warrior on a warhorse, carrying a sabre and a "strange projectile weapon of metal and wood". Delleb is also said to have invented the crossbow, a weapon of metal and wood that is not strange to any race of the Flanaess.
    5. Daern, the Oeridian hero-deity of defenses and fortifications was sponsored to godhood by Delleb. She is known mainly for her magic item Daern's Instant Fortress,
    but in Dragon Magazine #82 she is also said to have authored a book titled, "Components and Reactions of Phosporous".
    6. Lastly, just for fun, the 1980 Folio/1983 Guide: Both covers of these books show the heraldry for the Feif of Ahlissa (once Flan now Oerdian) with three fuse-lit blackpowder bombs...

    You can argue that #1 is an exception, #2, #3, and #4 are later "corruptions", and perhaps #6 is meant to be burning oil rather than gunpowder, but #5 is from the golden era (back when I had a Dragon subscription), and (I don't have Dragon #82 on me, but...) is probably from the hand of EGG.


    I've worked under the theory that it just doesn't work as well on Oerth, and needs magic to fully "actualize" it. Maybe it's really humid... Wink
    It doesn't come up that often anyway. For now... Evil Grin ).
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    Sat Feb 23, 2013 11:51 am  

    Awesome post, James! Smile I love these kinds of discussions.

    I got the idea about humors being a real thing from the Northern Crown campaign setting. I had never considered it before either.

    BTW I was also just thinking of a way to explain the grenades on the Ahlissan shield. Fireballs? I think this came up in a thread awhile back.
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    Sat Feb 23, 2013 12:28 pm  

    smillan_31 wrote:
    ...BTW I was also just thinking of a way to explain the grenades on the Ahlissan shield. Fireballs? I think this came up in a thread awhile back.


    -It's funny, I must have looked at those shields hundreds of times, but it never struck me until I read Mortillan's article.


    smillan_31 wrote:
    ...I got the idea about humors being a real thing from the Northern Crown campaign setting. I had never considered it before either...


    1) Astrology working in a fantasy setting? I'm in. Bleed & Purge? That just strains the plausibility factor a little too much for your's truly. Maybe physical abuse as healthful is just too counter-intuitve for me.

    But not for Smillan! Evil Grin Razz Laughing

    2) My remaining player is a fully trained nurse. If I made the 4 humors theory real, he'd probably choke. Wink

    I know there's another thread for this (and I'll post there when I have the time), but one of the things I liked about GH was the "shared world" concept i.e., someone could come in from somewhere else, and still be able to start play.

    Seems there's less commonality than I thought! Surprised Laughing Shocked
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    Sat Feb 23, 2013 2:16 pm  

    I am studying Herbalism in a Masters course, with a pretty well-known mentor. We study a lot of methods and theories of healing, most of which have been abandoned by the Western Medical Establishment.
    The idea of the 4 Humours persisted well into the early 1700s. Germ theory,etc. has undoubtedly saved millions (billions?) since Listre's day. It took a long time to catch on though...

    Sadly we've thrown out the baby with the bathwater in a lot of cases. Looking at Traditional Chinese Medicine, Traditional Ayurvedic Medicine or even Progressive Medicine of the US in the 19th & (early) 20th Centuries; a great deal of effective healing knowledge has been discarded for the Wzardry of Modern Chemistry. I won't even get into th mess that's been allowed to become. Bleeding and purging was a fad in medicine, and you'd never have seen a Midwife or root-doctor using it. Common folk knew it was stupid.
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Sat Feb 23, 2013 4:38 pm  

    Yeah, even if I did make humors a reality in my campaign -- and why not since the four classical elements are a reality -- bloodletting goes a little too far for me. "That's a nasty mace wound. I prescribe a strict regimen of leeches." Happy

    Edit: My mistake about the humors appearing in Northern Crown. They were in the free version of the setting, Septentrionalis, that the creator, Doug Anderson made available online, and I was lucky enough to snag while it was out. In that version there are actually rules about applying horoscopes and the humors to play (In Balance: no effect, Phlegmatic: - 1 to Reflex saves, Sanguine: +1 to Fortitude saves, etc...) the medicine section also talked about bloodletting as a treatment, although didn't go into details about the rules, other than talking a physicians ranks in Heal as an abstract for treating disease and damage. There are some great, simple guidelines for Social Rank, mainly dealing with how much money you had to spend and, if you were well to do, how many servants you had to keep so the rest of society didn't wag their tongues about you.
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