3 thoughts on “Angry Rants: Semantical Nonsense (and Depth vs. Complexity)

  1. Interesting topic! And it really touches on what makes tabletop RPG’s so damn awsome for so many people out there. No games are more complex than tabletop RPG’s hands-down. All the books, rules, options and house rulings involved creates something with more depth than any other gaming medium could provide.

  2. Pretty much dead on. I’ve always described it to myself by saying that complexity is the currency with which depth is bought. I will say that complexity is basically always going to lead to a net increase in possible choices (options, more accurately), but there’s a very important balancing act to informed choice, which is the really valuable commodity.

    You want there to be choice, but in general the better the idea of the relevant inputs a player can have in mind when deciding (and the mapping between inputs and outputs for crunch), the better a job the game can do of making for interesting choices where the players are really involved. Good choices are ones where the player can’t adequately be simulated by a die or by saying something starting with “well obviously”.

  3. Angry, have you ever ran into semantic arguments when interpreting rules and game mechanics? How do you decide when there is actual substance to a semantic argument about a game mechanic?

    For example, one of my nastier player-characters was in an argument with a NPC, which he decided to resolve by drawing out his dagger and stabbing him. The player asked me if the NPC was “surprised” by the attack to determine whether he should get the appropriate bonuses per the 5E rules. This sparked a big semantic argument about what it was to be “surprised”, and I am still unsure about whether there was any real substance to that argument. I made a sort of abstract judgment about the spirit of the rule, but I wasn’t sure if my disagreement with the player was really about the nature of being “surprised” or if it was just about the player using the word “surprised” to gain a mechanical advantage over the NPC. Any thoughts?

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