[RPG] citation for “D&D is not a physics simulation”


In multiple questions that deal with how the rules lead to outcomes that differ from what one would expect from real-world physics, answers make the point that "D&D is not a physics simulation/simulator", that instead it is a game that has rules optimized for a fun and engaging gameplay experience (I am convinced, correctly).

How does one justify this response to problems as it is often presented without justification, and what support for this claim is present in the actual rules? The main sections I can find are from the DMG, on page 4 and 5:

The D&D rules help you and the other players have a good time, but the rules aren't in charge. (…) The last part helps you adjudicate the rules of the game and modify them to suit the style of your campaign.

The rules don't account for every possible situation that might arise during a typical D&D session

From Tasha's Cauldron of Everything, page 5

You don't need to know every rule to enjoy D&D, and each group has its own style -different ways it likes to tell stories and to use the rules. Embrace what your group enjoys most. In short, follow your bliss

makes the point that joint story-telling is more important than rules adherence. And from Xanathar's Guide to everything (and the Sage Advise companion):

Rules are part of what makes D&D a game, rather than just improvised storytelling. The game's rules are meant to help organize, and even inspire, the action of a D&D campaign. The rules are a tool, and we want our tools to be as effective as possible

(bold added). In particular the last one could be interpreted to support this claim, as it states the objective of the rules is action, and that the rules need to be effective for this, which more realistic and complicated rules would not be.

Are there statements in published materials that more directly say that the rules are a simplifying abstraction, and are on purpose not aiming at realistic simulation?

Best Answer

In the AD&D 1st edition Dungeon Masters Guide p.9, Gary Gygax writes:

Of the two approaches to hobby games today, one is best defined as the realism-simulation school and the other as the game school. AD&D is assuredly an adherent of the latter school. It does not stress any realism (in the author's opinion an absurd effort at best considering the topic!). It does little to attempt to simulate anything either. ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS is first and foremost a game for the fun and enjoyment of those who seek to use imagination and creativity.

The D&D 3.5 Rules Compendium contains an essay by Andy Collins titled "Abstract or Simulation":

Every edition of D&D has struggled to find the right balance between simulation and abstraction that achieves maximum playability and fun. Overall, the game leans more heavily toward abstraction, and that's not an accident.

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