Saturday, 5 December 2020

Fallacies and Phalluses

 Fashionable phrases and buzzwords, often short snappy answers given by 'contributors' to online discussions in an attempt to appear intelligent, to win an argument with a deft wave of the tongue.

I hates them I does...

Why?  Not just because they are lazy and dismissive, and do nothing to further discussion, but because most of the time the 'contributor' (and I use that term in its loosest sense as their input contributes precisely nothing) uses the term incorrectly, they don't know what it means.  They've heard it, and think that using it will make them look superior.

It doesn't.

Perhaps the most idiotic was being called a 'railroader' because I insist my players use paper character sheets and real dice (wtf!), but I'm not going to focus on that here, I'm going to talk about the 'Stormwind Fallacy'.  In every discussion about roleplay vs rollplay, somebody will mention it, and usually in a very smug way ..."Like durrrrrrr, have you ever heard of the Stormwind Fallacy? You're wrong, because the Stormwind Fallacy...blah blah blah".  And once again, the person or people who dredge it up are usually doing so inappropriately.

If you've lived under a rock for the last 10 years or so you *might* not have heard of it.  It derives from a discussion on the WotC boards that took place at the height of the D&D 3.5E era.  Now 3.5E was a theorycrafter's ultimate wet dream, it was the peak of D&D character options, a time when the number-crunchers went to town to create ultimate character combos for POWER!  The original post on the forum stated:

"The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy

Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa.

Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game.

Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse roleplayer if he optimizes, and vice versa.

Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically roleplayed better than an optimized one, and vice versa."

He was not wrong.  But what many people choose to omit is what he went on to say:

"(I admit that there are some diehards on both sides -- the RP fanatics who refuse to optimize as if strong characters were the mark of the Devil and the min/max munchkins who couldn't RP their way out of a paper bag without setting it on fire -- though I see these as extreme examples. The vast majority of people are in between, and thus the generalizations hold. The key word is 'automatically')"

Yep, it's all true.  Being able to roleplay does not automatically mean you cannot crunch numbers and make a character effective, and vice versa.  The key points to make in any discussion about rollplay style vs roleplay though are tendencies and preferences.  And this is where those who are quick to quote the Fallacy in attempt to gain internet points miss the mark.

We're all on a sliding scale, very few gamers are at the polar opposite ends of that scale.  Equally, very few are *perfectly* in the middle.  A great many DO like to crunch numbers, and frequently this is at expense of logical roleplay, as they try to shoehorn the latest 'kewl' power into their character 'build', and justify it with decidedly dodgy reasoning in roleplay terms.  And probably just as many players are happy to sacrifice the 'perfect' mechanical option in favour of giving their character more flavour or a more logical sense of development in terms of the game story.

It's not that these players *cannot* do one or the other, it's that they prefer not to.  And most of the time this is what the actual discussions are about.  Player preferences.  And general tendencies. Players who are all about the power DO tend to crunch numbers at the expense of roleplay, because that's their priority, and yes roleplay does suffer as a result.  It's not that they can't, it's that they don't want to.  And vice versa, the priorities of a more roleplay focussed player DO tend to lead to slightly less powerful characters - again due to player preference, not ability.  These are facts of gaming, we are all on that sliding scale. And yet someone always dives in and quotes the Stormwind Fallacy, smugly believing they have won the internet for that moment.

You haven't. You've just made yourself look a bit of a dick.

Just like the phallus who told me I was railroading my players because of my paper and dice table rule.

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