20 July 2008

The Dark Knight, reality, and RPGs

“Three things that are completely unrelated, Alex?”†

Some stuff from “Dark Knight Shift: Why Batman Could Exist—But Not for Long

The biggest unreal part of the way Batman’s portrayed is the nature of his injuries. Most of the time, in the comics and in the movies, even when he wins, he usually winds up taking a pretty good beating. There’s a real failure to show the cumulative effect of that. The next day he’s shown out there doing the same thing again. He’d likely be quite tired and injured.

So, while the “death spiral” feature of some role-playing games may tend towards unrealistic, such a thing that kicks in after the fight is over might be more realistic.

...30 seconds to a minute (the maximum time period associated with his fights)...

So, does that mean that one minute combat rounds don’t make a lot of sense, or just that with one minute combat rounds combatants should go down in one hit. (^_^)

But it’s also hard for four or five people to simultaneously attack somebody, because they get in each other’s way. More realistic is a couple of attackers.

Whatever this man’s qualifications, they’re certainly more than my own in this matter. I’ve long suspected the “kung-fu movie circle of bad guys” thing was never as unrealistic as it’s accused of being.

†Yes, I understand that reality has no place in comic books, action movies, or fantasy role-playing games.


Matthew James Stanham said...

My suspicion is that the "one minute combat round" owes far more to War Gaming than it does to a desire for abstraction. Given the fast paced combat of the literature that inspired D&D and that when combat examples occur in the books they do not seem a minute long particularly, my inclination is to see this as an extension of the "battle length" problem. That is to say, we know medieval and ancient battles lasted for hours, but we do not know what those periods of time consisted of. The War Gaming response seems to have been to try and fill the time with lengthy rounds of play, and D&D was built around that premise.

I usually ignore the one minute round, and substitute a six second one, which is itself quite long enough.

KenHR said...

To me, the one minute combat round is an abstraction that takes into account not only what happens during the actual fight, but the rest, binding of wounds, cleaning of blades, etc. afterward. It's the sort of abstraction common to wargames like Squad Leader and the like, a design for effect approach. I've got a few of Gygax's minis rulesets as well as his Alexander boardgame, and he definitely seemed to have been a design for effect kind of guy.

Matthew James Stanham said...

Well... according to the AD&D DMG, characters have to rest for ten minutes (one turn) after combat, which I think accounts for the 'aftermath element'. Interesting possibility, though.

KenHR said...

D'oh, I'd forgotten that bit. That was one of those little rules we always overlooked (read: pretty much played Basic with AD&D classes, races and spells).