I’ve realized that D&D is a fundamentally flawed and ultimately worthless system. It is completely unrealistic, and when I say that I mean it varies from reality in a random, inconsistent, and poorly defined way.

A system should fulfill one of two goals:

  • State that the world is exactly like the real world, and provide a means for simulating as many different situations as possible. It is easy to extend the rules to unforeseen circumstances since things should operate as they do in reality.
  • Explicitly state the things that are/operate differently from reality, and provide a way to simulate every possible situation involving them. Any situation which is not mentioned should probably be considered impossible and should be avoided (note that in a good system it should be impossible to get into impossible situations). Continue describing the realistic part of the world as above.

A statement like “magic works” is not an explicit statement of variation from reality, unless you then go on to describe in what circumstances, with what restrictions, having what effects, etc.

D&D fails at both goals. Some argue that it’s vague and incomplete rules foster creativity and encourage groups to customize the game. I say that most people need to know the rules before they can bend them, and extending the rules usually consists of the DM making an arbitrary decision with no basis in reality that leads to inconsistent and confusing rules. Some argue that fewer explicit rules simplify the game. I say that interesting situations are inherently complex. They require rules, which in vague systems have to be made up, making the game more complex than an explicitly defined system, because the rules are spread out over possibly years of play and rarely catalogued. If you want a simple system, play Magic.

I think if I take another foray into roleplaying, I’ll try GURPS.