This is an answer to this single sentence from Dave Cesarano of The Caffeinated Symposium on the previous post, As Usual:
"There comes a point in attempting to simulate reality in which a game becomes absurd."
Yes, Dave. There is.
Giving you the benefit of the doubt, I presume you realize that at no time in my last post did I make any statements about 'simulating' reality or anything else. In fact, I did not use the word 'simulate' in the post. Nor did I use the word 'reality.' I did write a post about making an effort to design a game so that it wasn't, well, boring.
But okay, you've invented the strawman to argue against, so let's stick that bastard out in the field and see if it scares up anything. I'll start by pulling out my old tattered dictionary so we can find out what "simulation" means.
The relevant definition I've found reads as follows:
"Simulation is the process of designing a model of a real system and conducting experiments with this model for the purpose either of understanding the behaviour of the system or of evaluating various strategies (within limits imposed by a criterion or set of criteria) for the operation of the system."
See, Dave, I've done some reading and it turns out that in a wide variety of respected scientific and non-scientific fields, 'simulations' are built solely for the reason of better understanding things. A pretty stunning revelation, don't you think? I know I was surprised. So surprised, in fact, that I did about 90 seconds of deep, involved investigation and discovered that this ridiculous, obviously hopeless effort to simulate reality was taken to rather remarkable extremes. In fact, millions and millions of actual dollars, more than either you or I will ever earn in our lifetimes, are spent on taking these simulations to ... what was the word you used? Oh right, "absurd." Yes, they take these simulations to absurd lengths in order to determine silly things like engineering integrity, safety, social policy and so on.
But of course, we don't do anything like that in D&D. Everything in D&D is profoundly abstract ... as everyone knows. Why, just take combat. I've heard it said that it's probably the most abstract element of the game. I don't know who said that ... but as we know, once a statement like that is made, it must be true.
Goddamn, you know? I'm not sure I really understand what "abstract" means. Let's have a look at that puppy since, after all, I've got the dictionary open.
Here it is:
"That which comprises or concentrates in itself the essential qualities of a larger thing or of several things. Specifically, a summary of an epitome, as of a treatise or book, or of a statement. Expressing a particular property of an object viewed apart from the other properties that constitute it."
Hey, that's interesting. You know, I don't see anything here about something that is abstract being false or misrepresentative or different from reality. I must have the wrong dictionary, huh Dave? I'm sure if I had the dictionary you use, I'd have a better sense of what you meant.
See, according to this dictionary, D&D presents the essentials of combat in order to resolve battles and death from wounds apart from its other properties - you know, like actual death. In other words, or rather in the words above, the combat we play out in the game is an expression of the particular properties of combat - the excitement and the fun - accomplished apart from all that necessity for blood, pain, anguish, doctors, funerals and long periods of recovery.
You know what an abstraction is, Dave ol' buddy? Why, it's a simulation! Goddamn, huh? Turns out, D&D Combat is an way of modeling reality so that it can be played as a game.
Now, I know that in D&D we don't go to absurd lengths to create this simulation/abstraction thing, but as it happens there are literally hundreds of pages contributing to the practice and game play of combat spread over at least fifty hardcover books and what, six or seven different versions of the game? Oh, didn't D&D actually start out of a combat simulation (or abstraction, shit, it's your dictionary) called Chains and Mails or some crap like that? I can't quite remember, it was some kind of Postal Service S&M thing.
Honest people, I would love to take your opinions and certainties about what this game is and where the line between absurd and farting around ought to be ... but it seems to me that the first goal for a lot of you would be to start with learning something about the use of ENGLISH. It's a language. It's used to define things. I'm sure that once some of you get the hang of it, you'll get a clearer idea of just what the fuck I'm talking about. Then, when you have some disagreement you'd like to advance, the actual thing you'd be disagreeing with would be something I actually said, as opposed to whatever it was you said in the last sentence YOU wrote. Which, as it turns out, is something about which you have only the vaguest understanding.
Okay, Zak, it's time for you to write another One Act play in which you put words in my mouth to show how blind I am to your wisdom. The real tragedy isn't that I think there are stupid people in the world - it's that anyone pretends they don't think so too.