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Rampant Games - Randomly Speaking

by Dhruin, 2012-11-09 23:11:24

We posted an article from Craig Stern on randomness a few days ago (Craig's own Telepath series uses deterministic or non-random combat) and Jay Barnson has followed up with his own article:

Reality is Random

I was stupid and not paying attention when driving a few days ago when making a left turn. I nearly got into an accident. It wasn’t a near miss or anything, but I felt really stupid about it. I have no idea how many left-hand turns I’ve made in my life, but it’s a lot. These are not difficult actions. I don’t go into an intersection expecting a 1% chance of failure when I turn on my left blinker. But even trivial acts go wrong sometimes. And sometimes we get lucky and win the lottery.  There are so many complicated factors in play with every action and plan, so many uncontrolled variables, that our human minds effectively have to boil things down to chance. And we have to make plans around chance. We buy insurance. We take risks. We play the odds. We create “Plan B.”

I’ve done a bit of simulated combat with fencing weapons, padded swords, martial arts, paintball, and the like.  Enough to know that what seems simple and automatic in practice can become devilishly hard when the heat is on. There are plenty of reports on actual gunfights (and a few eerie videos on YouTube) that illustrate how ‘shootouts’ are amazingly… well, random. Guys who can place high in shooting competitions can’t seem to hit the broadside of a barn at point blank range against a deadly opponent shooting back at them.  Real fights are fast, frantic, messy affairs, and gamers would be infuriated with probabilities that mirror reality. Actually, older wargames (and D&D) tried to simulate this by claiming that attacks were an abstraction. In older editions of D&D, your hit chance represented the sum total of a number of attacks made during the course of a round, perhaps the one “good” shot that had a real chance of doing damage.

Simulationists (and I have at least one foot in that camp) tend to enjoy the randomness of real life thrown into our games.  Though we also like having enough control over the variables to be able to pick and choose our chances.

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