This thread on RPG.net is a very humorous (and non-mathematical) approach to comparing a lifting action across systems.

Aberrant: Of course you can lift the rock, and everyone is in awe and/or terrified of you for now. Ultimately, it won't matter because all your works will be undone and you can't have children.

Mind's Eye Theater Vampire: You bid a strength trait and play RPS, then get distracted when your ex walks by, and gossip and complain about the other players behind their backs until the session ends and everyone gets drunk.

# SimAntics

I analyze, evaluate, and comment on tabletop role-playing game (RPG) mechanics. I address issues of game balance, simulation accuracy, min-maxing, and optimization.

## Jan 29, 2012

## Dec 14, 2011

### Probability of a Fatal Fall in Aberrant

I've done a bit on the probability of death from falls from heights in the real world, and the average height a character would have to fall in order to die in various simulation systems. Here is a closer look at how the Aberrant system specifically compares to real life.

If you can even see the short blip at 30+ meters, you can understand how spectacularly Aberrant fails to simulate death by falling. The average person has 8 health levels, but there are two types of damage. Bashing damage hurts, lethal damage kills, and additional bashing damage becomes lethal damage after all 8 health levels have been damaged. Damage from falls under 30 meters is bashing. 1 die is rolled for each 3 meters fallen, and there is a 40% chance of each die resulting in damage. So, a 3 meter fall results in rolling 1 die with a 40% chance of suffering 1 level of bashing damage. A 29 meter fall results in rolling 9 dice with a very tiny chance of taking 9 levels of bashing, which converts to 7 bashing and 1 level of lethal damage, but a still-alive character. At the 30 meter level and above, however, 10 dice are rolled and all damage is lethal. This gives us a whopping 1.4% chance of death for everyone for all heights over 30 meters. This game is notorious for needing house rules, and I encourage game masters to crank up the falling damage in their campaigns.

If you can even see the short blip at 30+ meters, you can understand how spectacularly Aberrant fails to simulate death by falling. The average person has 8 health levels, but there are two types of damage. Bashing damage hurts, lethal damage kills, and additional bashing damage becomes lethal damage after all 8 health levels have been damaged. Damage from falls under 30 meters is bashing. 1 die is rolled for each 3 meters fallen, and there is a 40% chance of each die resulting in damage. So, a 3 meter fall results in rolling 1 die with a 40% chance of suffering 1 level of bashing damage. A 29 meter fall results in rolling 9 dice with a very tiny chance of taking 9 levels of bashing, which converts to 7 bashing and 1 level of lethal damage, but a still-alive character. At the 30 meter level and above, however, 10 dice are rolled and all damage is lethal. This gives us a whopping 1.4% chance of death for everyone for all heights over 30 meters. This game is notorious for needing house rules, and I encourage game masters to crank up the falling damage in their campaigns.

## Oct 7, 2011

### Marvel Super Heroes - Strength and Lifting

It is time to see how Marvel Super Heroes weighs in as a simulator of human lifting abilities. Marvel includes the character creation mechanic of randomly generating the strength attribute such that half of characters are Typical, 20% are each of Poor and Good, and 5% are each of Feeble and Excellent.

Marvel is another system, like Shadowrun, that requires a roll to determine how much a character can lift in a particular moment, and there is wide variance. On average, a character of feeble or poor strength in Marvel can not lift anything, which is quite unrealistic. On average rolls, characters of typical and higher strength can lift about as much as real people can.

The above graph shows the maximum amount that Marvel characters can lift given really good rolls on d100. The maximum lift is a rare event in the game. In the game, 5% of people have a 6% chance in any given moment to lift 2000 lbs, which is double the most that any real person has ever lifted. The top quarter of Marvel characters is able to lift 800 lbs sometimes, which only a bare handful of men in the real world can accomplish. It is also easily possible (45%) for a stronger than average character to fail to pick up a measly 50 lbs, which is ridiculous.

Again, I am opposed to such wide variance within a character's moment-to-moment lifting ability. Marvel may even be a worse simulation than Shadowrun.

Marvel is another system, like Shadowrun, that requires a roll to determine how much a character can lift in a particular moment, and there is wide variance. On average, a character of feeble or poor strength in Marvel can not lift anything, which is quite unrealistic. On average rolls, characters of typical and higher strength can lift about as much as real people can.

The above graph shows the maximum amount that Marvel characters can lift given really good rolls on d100. The maximum lift is a rare event in the game. In the game, 5% of people have a 6% chance in any given moment to lift 2000 lbs, which is double the most that any real person has ever lifted. The top quarter of Marvel characters is able to lift 800 lbs sometimes, which only a bare handful of men in the real world can accomplish. It is also easily possible (45%) for a stronger than average character to fail to pick up a measly 50 lbs, which is ridiculous.

Again, I am opposed to such wide variance within a character's moment-to-moment lifting ability. Marvel may even be a worse simulation than Shadowrun.

## Sep 26, 2011

### Shadowrun 4th Ed. - Strength and Lifting

In Shadowrun 4th Edition, how much a person can lift or carry is based on the character's Strength, modified by the successes from a Strength + Body roll. Human Strength and Body attributes lie on a 1-6 scale, and the manual says that average humans have scores of 3. With the average person's STR + BOD = 6, it is possible to roll up to 6 successes to modify his base lifting amount (though very unlikely to get all 6 successes). Each success rolled adds 15 kg to the amount that can be lifted. Here is a graph of the average lifting abilities (after rolling) for characters of average Body and any given Strength:

We see here that the average real-world person is as strong as a Shadowrun character with a Strength of 2, one level below average given an average Body. The perfectly average Shadowrun character will (on an average roll) be stronger than about 70% of real people. With the randomization in the game mechanics, it is possible for characters with strength of 2 to lift more than shown on this graph about 26% of the time. So, it gets a little messy comparing the probability distributions of game characters to the single limits I have for real people. Real people just do not have wide variance for how much an individual is able to lift. A person's max lift will fluctuate a little based on factors like rest, warm-up, time of day, and how long it's been since working out, but the fluctuation will not come anywhere close to the 90 kg variance an average Shadowrun character has.

Shadowrun's mechanics have the typical trend that average characters are stronger than average real-world people, but on average the difference is not as severe as other popular systems. What is quite deviant in the mechanics is the huge variance within a single person due to rolling so many dice to determine lifting ability during each attempt to lift something.

Here is a table of probabilities of successes based on die pool:

Here is the table of base lifting amounts and modifiers:

Rolled successes add 15 kg to lifting, and 10 kg to carrying. I would prefer the system to have less randomization. It is also unfortunately messy to use the real strengths that I have in comparison to Shadowrun characters all of Body 3. I have no clear way to break real world people into six Shadowrun-equivalent groups by body size to create separate graphs by Body and Strength. This is one of the least clear comparisons I'm making for strength, but I hold to the opinion that less randomization is better in a simulation mechanic.

We see here that the average real-world person is as strong as a Shadowrun character with a Strength of 2, one level below average given an average Body. The perfectly average Shadowrun character will (on an average roll) be stronger than about 70% of real people. With the randomization in the game mechanics, it is possible for characters with strength of 2 to lift more than shown on this graph about 26% of the time. So, it gets a little messy comparing the probability distributions of game characters to the single limits I have for real people. Real people just do not have wide variance for how much an individual is able to lift. A person's max lift will fluctuate a little based on factors like rest, warm-up, time of day, and how long it's been since working out, but the fluctuation will not come anywhere close to the 90 kg variance an average Shadowrun character has.

Shadowrun's mechanics have the typical trend that average characters are stronger than average real-world people, but on average the difference is not as severe as other popular systems. What is quite deviant in the mechanics is the huge variance within a single person due to rolling so many dice to determine lifting ability during each attempt to lift something.

Here is a table of probabilities of successes based on die pool:

Here is the table of base lifting amounts and modifiers:

Rolled successes add 15 kg to lifting, and 10 kg to carrying. I would prefer the system to have less randomization. It is also unfortunately messy to use the real strengths that I have in comparison to Shadowrun characters all of Body 3. I have no clear way to break real world people into six Shadowrun-equivalent groups by body size to create separate graphs by Body and Strength. This is one of the least clear comparisons I'm making for strength, but I hold to the opinion that less randomization is better in a simulation mechanic.

## Sep 17, 2011

### Mutants and Masterminds - Strength and Lifting

Mutants and Masterminds is one of my favorite systems. The mechanics made excellent improvements on the d20 system. Since it uses a point-buy system, there is no real distribution of strength. Since it is based on the d20 system, though, which originally determined strength with a 3d6, I am using the 3d6 curve as a proxy of the distribution of strength within M&M.

It is accurate enough at the far bottom and top of the distribution of lifting ability, but, as with nearly every other system, it overestimates the abilities of most people in the average range. The average person in the M&M system is stronger than 75% of people in the real world. The average person in the real world is only stronger than 10% of people in the M&M system.

Here is the lifting/dragging table for M&M 2nd ed. Weights are in pounds.

It is accurate enough at the far bottom and top of the distribution of lifting ability, but, as with nearly every other system, it overestimates the abilities of most people in the average range. The average person in the M&M system is stronger than 75% of people in the real world. The average person in the real world is only stronger than 10% of people in the M&M system.

Here is the lifting/dragging table for M&M 2nd ed. Weights are in pounds.

## Aug 31, 2011

### I'm Not Dead

I am still gradually recovering from the loss of my last computer. I decided to try Open Office on the new one instead of buying MS Office or using my super old version, but Open Office makes my graphs uglier than they already were, so I am just going to install MS Office 2000. My workplace is no better.

This site got over 600 views in August. I've got visitors from over 30 countries. Eastern Asia is especially interested in the Principals of Recreation. Many of you are looking for probability tables for Shadowrun 4th edition and World of Darkness, and for strength and intelligence information for D&D. Many of you are also looking for the probability of death from falls of different heights, adult weight distributions, and adult deadlifting capabilities. I have very few return visitors, as most of you tend to be searching for something in particular, find it and leave.

My personal favorite posts do not turn up in people's searches, and have very few views: RPG mechanics taxonomy, determining if dice are lucky, and a taxonomy of action success probability systems.

Projects I have in mind for the future are to finish out the deadlifting series, revisit death by falls for each system individually with greater detail, interviews with RPG designers, commentary on intelligence simulation, and the most comprehensive list of possible in-game effects.

This site got over 600 views in August. I've got visitors from over 30 countries. Eastern Asia is especially interested in the Principals of Recreation. Many of you are looking for probability tables for Shadowrun 4th edition and World of Darkness, and for strength and intelligence information for D&D. Many of you are also looking for the probability of death from falls of different heights, adult weight distributions, and adult deadlifting capabilities. I have very few return visitors, as most of you tend to be searching for something in particular, find it and leave.

My personal favorite posts do not turn up in people's searches, and have very few views: RPG mechanics taxonomy, determining if dice are lucky, and a taxonomy of action success probability systems.

Projects I have in mind for the future are to finish out the deadlifting series, revisit death by falls for each system individually with greater detail, interviews with RPG designers, commentary on intelligence simulation, and the most comprehensive list of possible in-game effects.

## Aug 18, 2011

### Fighting and Lifting in Flight

I recently watched a particularly awful cartoon about Superman and Shazaam, and was struck by the nonsensical fighting in mid-air. Martial arts greatly depends on leverage. Punches, kicks, dodges and throws generally involve at least one foot on the ground or forward motion. RPG rules should include at least a nod to Newton's laws of motion. A flier striking someone hard enough to send him soaring away would move backwards (or spin) at great speed also, unless the strike involved an instant whole-body acceleration in the same direction as the strike. If the flier is capable of such sudden, massive acceleration, then the flier would be able to evade or roll with strikes, and may also be immune to injury from strikes by virtue of the inherent resistance to huge forces necessary to survive his own ability to accelerate.

Strength is nearly meaningless in flight. A person's strength is based on his ability to use leverage of joints and of the body against a stable surface. If the Hulk was able to very slowly levitate himself into the air, he would not be able to do so while holding a car. If Banner is able to accelerate very rapidly to great speeds, he would be able to slowly lift a car into the air, perhaps only by pressing his entire body flat underneath it. The point is that both lifting and flying are applications of force, and are not independent of each other in the air.

What systems take any of this into consideration? Aberrant does not, but does include mechanics for additional effectiveness of certain aerial and high-speed maneuvers. There is no prohibition of fliers using their full strength or martial arts ability and damage in the air.

I don't think that it is practical to have an RPG require all the math to precisely simulate fighting and lifting in flight, but I would like to at least see some general penalties or restrictions.

Strength is nearly meaningless in flight. A person's strength is based on his ability to use leverage of joints and of the body against a stable surface. If the Hulk was able to very slowly levitate himself into the air, he would not be able to do so while holding a car. If Banner is able to accelerate very rapidly to great speeds, he would be able to slowly lift a car into the air, perhaps only by pressing his entire body flat underneath it. The point is that both lifting and flying are applications of force, and are not independent of each other in the air.

What systems take any of this into consideration? Aberrant does not, but does include mechanics for additional effectiveness of certain aerial and high-speed maneuvers. There is no prohibition of fliers using their full strength or martial arts ability and damage in the air.

I don't think that it is practical to have an RPG require all the math to precisely simulate fighting and lifting in flight, but I would like to at least see some general penalties or restrictions.

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