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Realism meta question framed by RQ

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While reading the various threads/comments about limb hp, strike ranks, and realism questions I wonder why - with the effort to make RQ as reasonably realistic as one can be in a game setting with dragons and magic - we all sort of skip over with no comment the obvious unrealism of RQs lack of sexual dimorphism?  Why not represent women's stats distinctly from men?

I realize that even raising this issue will likely trigger some people.  Shrug.

Nevertheless, I pose it as a serious question: it's a quantifiable, proven fact that men are typically stronger than women of the same size.  They are also, typically, larger than women.  These two stats cumulate to a 40% strength advantage for the average man over the average woman.  

Further, I'd argue that the next clearest difference would probably be in CON - women live longer than men, and if you remove the deaths due to childbirth it's even more striking.  Clearly human females have on average a higher CON than human males.  I'd likewise believe it persuasively arguable that women have at least slightly better DEX.  My experience with most married couples would be they have higher INT as well.  Finally, I'd even argue a reasonable cause so suggest higher POW, depending on how you define it.  I mean, they can (with a little help) CREATE LIFE.

So my net suggestions would be:

STR: men 3d6, women 2d6+1 (this puts both the average and the max at about the statistical 40% difference)

CON: men 3d6, women 2d6+6 (women live longer, have better immune systems, probably higher pain resistance)

SIZ: men 2d6+6, women 2d6+4 (both are normally distributed, but women avg 62kg, men 78kg ie about 2 SIZ points)

INT: men 3d6, women 2d6+6 (IQ tests tend to put women around 99.5-101.5 vs men 100 in the developed world.  In my PRACTICAL experience, this understates the difference in real-world use.)

POW: both 3d6...personally, I'd suggest women's POW be considered 2-4 higher for MP recovery rate but that's obviously entirely subjective

DEX: men 3d6, women 3d6+1

CHA: (same)

Yes, this is going to create a likely-significant advantage to human males in combat vs females....but that's not unrealistic. 

Other races would likely be different; female mistress/dark/trollkin trolls would perhaps be better in every stat than the respective males?

Why not represent the differences between men and women reasonably within the game, or is any suggestion of dimorphism going to invariably be interpreted as some sort of denigration somehow?

 

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38 minutes ago, styopa said:

Why not represent the differences between men and women reasonably within the game, or is any suggestion of dimorphism going to invariably be interpreted as some sort of denigration somehow?

You're entirely correct! A variety of physiological differences arising from (predominantly postpubescent) sexual dimorphism fundamentally benefit adult human males in situations involving physical force and activity, notably including violent confrontation. It's one of the principal reasons why patriarchy exists.

Why do we not model this? Because we play games to have fun. And as a considerable number of those games involve us solving problems by way of hitting them in the face with an axe, accurately modelling physiological differences would mean that we make games a lot less fun and rewarding for half the human species.

So we have two options: (i) keep physical violence in place, but artificially remove its consequences and context, such as removing sex-based characteristic modifiers; or (ii) to stop making and enjoying games where we solve all our problems by hitting them in the face with an axe, which has after all proven a pretty shitty activity to a lot of people over the ages. As we tend to valorise, idealise and infantilise violence to a considerable degree, and our understanding of the nature and consequences of conflict is fairly shallow, we plumb for (i). Unsurprisingly, really, as choosing (ii) would eradicate the hobby as we know it.

In the real world, of course, we can't do this. On a non-evolutionary timescale, the biological issues as presented are here to stay. But we can change our behaviour—as individuals and socieities—to stop embracing systems of behaviour that prey upon such issues to produce inequality. Quite why our preferred forms of entertainment (including roleplaying games) persist in doing the exact opposite—embracing an irrevocably flawed and biased system but pretending it has no consequence—is, quite frankly, beyond me.

I'm not sure it's exactly the answer you're looking for, but speaking as a military historian, I think it rather gets to the crux of the matter. :)

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3 hours ago, styopa said:

INT: men 3d6, women 2d6+6 (IQ tests tend to put women around 99.5-101.5 vs men 100 in the developed world.  In my PRACTICAL experience, this understates the difference in real-world use.)

I don't think this successfully models the characteristic difference you're aiming for, because while both males and females on this model have the same maximum rollable INT (18), their minimum rollable varies drastically (3 and 8, respectively). Further, the difference between a 99.5-101.5 and a 100 average is minuscule; IQ isn't an objective measurement, but rather an average based upon tested subjects which occasionally needs to be controlled for a wide variety of variables. For example, a 100 IQ child does not exhibit the same cognitive functions as a 100 IQ adult. My understanding on IQ is that it is best considered in the context of a standard deviation, generally 15 points. So, substantial differences in functioning can be seen between persons of similar age and culture at IQ 85 and IQ 100 after brief conversation, but the difference between 95 and 100 likely isn't obvious.

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In a world of dragons and magic, you choose for Glorantha to have Earth-like sexual dimorphism. YGMV, but there is no particular reason that has to be so for everyone's game. Which is one of about a zillion reasons that Chaosium likely chose to skip this.

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58 minutes ago, TheHistorian said:

In a world of dragons and magic, you choose for Glorantha to have Earth-like sexual dimorphism. YGMV, but there is no particular reason that has to be so for everyone's game. Which is one of about a zillion reasons that Chaosium likely chose to skip this.

I was thinking that as I read through the above. 

It's a simple solution to the question posed.

Also, even if this sexual dimorphism does exist in Glorantha, there's no.reason it would exist to the level suggested. (of course, it also could!)

We know that female trolls rule the caves, and especially Mistress Race... So.logically there should be differences in their stats (and I think I recall some from a time some time in the past...).

The other obvious point... Humans on earth have had a million years to develop, evolve, change... Gloranthans haven't.

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This idea used to be a thing, back in the archaic years of RPGs.  Simulation uber alles, STR penalties for women, etc... Most of the hoary old propositions were there in the OP.

It was part and parcel of why most women didn't play, wouldn't play.

Ultimately, we play to have FUN, and "simulating" this aspect of sexual dimorphism isn't really fun (for most people).  So it's not worth "playing" a game with this "feature" -- it's a bug, in that is interferes with the primary goal of the game.

Pretty much the only way I could see this working is by women (and hence female-centric Cults like Ernalda) getting a serious POWer-up.   POW = 4d4+4 ???  Something active, PC-ish, not just CON to survive trials and tribulations...

 

Edited by g33k
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We get some of that dimorphism through the effect of the elemental runes on stats, at least among the Orlanthi. Those typical modifications make up for some of those dimorphism issues.

But then, how many of your characters are rolled up completely randomly, without selection bias? How much do the rolled statistics survive after the decision whether or not to keep playing that character?

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14 minutes ago, Joerg said:

We get some of that dimorphism through the effect of the elemental runes on stats, at least among the Orlanthi. Those typical modifications make up for some of those dimorphism issues.

But then, how many of your characters are rolled up completely randomly, without selection bias? How much do the rolled statistics survive after the decision whether or not to keep playing that character?

Excellent points!

Also, I wonder:  How many groups play character-generation purely by RAW?   I've observed a lot of HR's reported on the rolls for stats...

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Well, I am liking what I am seeing!

Nice on ya, boys. Not ganging up on ya styopa, In fact, usually I love reading your opinions.  But somone has to be  on the losing end of this stick and it sucks its you, but...

Without being nasty, alas you are on the wrong side of history as well as MGF here. If a woman wishes to play a Princess Diana of Amazonia why ever not. She shan't achieve said stats if she must roll as a member of the distaff side. Or say I wish to play tim the enchanter, well I say...

":What... is you favourite colour???"

PS I have only one other thing to say

You should see the women of the union local I work with and just how strong mentally as well as physically they are! It would amaze you

Cheers

Edited by Bill the barbarian
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Wish I could cite the details but I remember reading Greg once replying,." We like women!"  to the question why Chaosium and RQ had such reverence  and place for women both as characters and players compared to other '80s games.

Cheers

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2 hours ago, Bill the barbarian said:

Without being nasty, alas you are on the wrong side of history as well as MGF here. If a woman wishes to play a Princess Diana of Amazonia why ever not. She shan't achieve said stats if she must roll as a member of the distaff side.

I'm not sure we need to jump straight to "Wrong side of history!" from someone positing a question on how to model sexual dimorphism in their own game. As for MGF, isn't that best decided table-by-table? (Not to mention I'm like 90% sure Wonder Woman's got a wee bit more than STR 21...)

I've been letting it muddle in the back of my head for a bit, and I think the OP potentially raises a variety of interesting questions, provided the shared premise "we can talk civilly about sexual dimorphism" holds true. Here's where I'm at so far.

Modeling characteristics seems to rely on two sorts of measurements:

  1. The average characteristic generated (10.5 on a 3D6, 13 on a 2D6+6) by a given roll.
  2. The minimum and maximum rollable characteristic on said roll.

In my prior post, I disagreed with @styopa's assessment of INT between males and females based primarily on the second criterion. If males roll 3D6 and females 2D6+6 for minimum scores of 3 and 8 respectively, then there's some portion of males which are, simply, blithering idiots to a degree not extant in the female population. On that model, about 26% of the male population has INT equal to or less than the lowest 3% of the female population (assuming I've done math right :D).

Of course, this all is reliant upon another premise: the basic physiological and psychological capacities of Gloranthan humans are the same as the basic capacities for Earth humans. I think this premise is reasonable. First, let us assume a "good faith" argument that any given characteristic model will have exceptions--persons who lay outside the scope of the model. For example, many NBA basketball players are larger than SIZ 21 (listed as 6'10" or 6'11" on the Humanoid Size table on p.9 of the Bestiary). So, I'll be working from the assumption that even a good model only accounts for, say, 95% of the population. Outliers always exist (and often go on adventures!). Second, there's nothing in RQG which makes me believe Gloranthan humans are substantially different in their innate capacities from Earth humans; cultural differences exist, and of course magic and spirits and dragons and gods exist there and do not here, but humans still seem, to me, to be presented as very us-like. Further, such a presentation is the norm in the fantasy genre as a necessary feature for the audience's transfer into and acceptance of a secondary world.

Finally, a major challenge to modeling sexual dimorphism within RQG is that in some cases there's not really a quantifiable way to measure the capacity, or the characteristic, or map one to the other. For example, there isn't a clear way to determine between CHA 17 and CHA 18 in a real world situation (and I think it's reasonable or necessary that we can't actually make that distinction). There's a certain amount of abstraction involved in characteristic modeling which cannot be overcome. STR and SIZ, as styopa addressed, are able to be quantifiably measured and accounted for; further, we have given measurements within the game system for varieties of SIZ. They also make an interesting argument regarding CON. But characteristics like INT, POW, and CHA aren't really quantifiable; while we may use IQ as a measure of intelligence on Earth, I don't think it can really be mapped to RuneQuest characteristics in a meaningful way.

A few thoughts of my own for modeling dimorphism, if I were inclined to do so...

  1. I'd give males +1 to STR and SIZ, and females +2 to CON. Perhaps ironically I would do so because I prefer, ultimately, to view RuneQuest as a game, not a simulation. It's a story-generating engine which should encourage interesting choices. The males option increases their average SIZ+STR to 25, just enough for a +1D4 damage modifier, while the females option adds two Hit Points--boon enough in its own right. I think this encourages decision-making without necessarily penalizing either choice. It seems to me that large characteristic roll differences (like 3D6 v. 2D6+1, 3D6 v. 2D6+6) suggested in the OP both too strongly disincentivize choosing a particular sex, as well as providing an inaccurate model based upon the given ranges of those rolls.
  2. To most accurately model characteristic variety, why would we be slavishly attached to rolling D6s? For example, a roll of 4D4 has a range of 4 to 16, but a similar average to 3D6 (10 v. 10.5). 5D4 creates a fairly interesting spread for INT, with min 5 (for blithering idiots) and max of 20, and an average of 12.5 (near our current 2D6+6). I don't have a full array to suggest, but it seems to me that if we're looking to work from a simulation perspective, the best array of characteristic rolls would be developed by a series of small dice rolled many times--D3s and D4s--with a small additional modifier on top to denote sexual divergence. For characteristics with a great deal of variety, like STR, remain with D6s or go even higher.
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9 hours ago, styopa said:

...

Nevertheless, I pose it as a serious question: it's a quantifiable, proven fact that men are typically stronger than women of the same size.  They are also, typically, larger than women.  These two stats cumulate to a 40% strength advantage for the average man over the average woman.  

...

Yes, this is a serious and valid question. But my main objection would be: player characters are not average characters. So with MGF in mind I would refrain from using these quantifiable differences in the character creation process. Unless the players want to do it, but I do not see, why they should ...

So basically I do not see that as something missing in the rules. It's up to the players and the GM to decide, if they want to play it that way.

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13 minutes ago, Crel said:

Of course, this all is reliant upon another premise: the basic physiological and psychological capacities of Gloranthan humans are the same as the basic capacities for Earth humans. I think this premise is reasonable

I'm not quite so sure as yourself.

I'd go with "similar", in the way that the metals of Glorantha are similar to ours, and yet also different. The cultures and societies are similar, but also different in significant ways.

The only reason to suggest that Gloranthan humans are the same is purely to give ourselves a point of reference (for the sake of immersion).

Also, there's one awesome compelling argument to say they're not the same - Westerner humans have skin colours ranging from dark brown to green, red, or blue. Hair colours yellow, red and green (naturally... Not dyed) (GtG Vol 1)

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13 hours ago, styopa said:

SIZ: men 2d6+6, women 2d6+4 (both are normally distributed, but women avg 62kg, men 78kg ie about 2 SIZ points)

That's about the only one that makes sense to me, as there seems to still be a difference in sizes between men and women. However, I wouldn't really use it in a game, unless someone asked for it for their PC.

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If the dogged pursuit of realism was an objective, and if we were rolling up average members of the species, and if it didn't close down options for female characters, then sexual dimorphism might be worth modelling in chargen. But since none of these things are desirable then I'm decidedly in the 'why bother?' camp. No offence, but I can't see how this is going to be in the spirit of a game that goes out of its way to provide an egalitarian chargen experience.

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Yeah, well, ugh, I guess I'll take a stab at this.

Basically I agree with most of the people here, that this shouldn't be a concern in our role-playing games. That is even if I definitely do agree that there are significant real world differences between the sexes (though I don't actually agree with the actual differences proposed by the OP). Even if games try to be simulations, we have to ask "simulations of what?" Do they model cinematic actions, myths, what-not - for each the criterion of successful simulation is certainly different. But yeah, I guess RQ tries to be quite gritty realistic, so a case can be made...

That said, are men stronger than women in Glorantha? One would maybe expect that, but then again one would expect the world to be a sphere and all kinds of other things that are actually not true in Glorantha. Sure, I would tend to say "yeah, maybe they are", but I guess it bears raising the question. In that case, and taking gritty realism as our cue, if we use the die rolls to model random distributions of attributes, you could go with something like this.

Personally, I probably wouldn't impose this on anyone wanting to play a female character (then again I wouldn't impose random characteristic generation on anyone either). If somebody wants to play a female character who is is the statistical mean of being weaker than their male counterparts, then they can choose to do that, but if they wanna play a strong bad ass Vingan they can do that too. 

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Humans are made up of Periodic-Table elements; of DNA, by way of evolution.

Gloranthans are made up of Runes, created by their various gods (and dragons, etc).

The more I think about it, the less I think there is ANY basis to presume human-style sexual dimorphism.  Under the RAW, that I can see, there is zero support for believing this has any merit.

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5 minutes ago, g33k said:

Humans are made up of Periodic-Table elements; of DNA, by way of evolution.

 Gloranthans are made up of Runes, created by their various gods (and dragons, etc).

The more I think about it, the less I think there is ANY basis to presume human-style sexual dimorphism.  Under the RAW, that I can see, there is zero support for believing this has any merit.

I have often argued in like manner. Show me the corpuscles, the cells, the mitochondria of a Glorantha native. The Runes, perhaps. the others, if they even exist...

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7 hours ago, Crel said:

 

(Not to mention I'm like 90% sure Wonder Woman's got a wee bit more than STR 21...)

 

At least a 22 and let's not talk about her RQ3 APP.

Edited by Bill the barbarian
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However, I think 'but there are dragons!' As an argument is specious. You make the fantastic a thing by its relation to the mundane. If the you guy full-bore 'alien fantasy' as some settings tried to do the games were simply unable to be related to and the settings failed.

It all boils down to where you draw that line. Many people in their settings, often due to in-depth knowledge of how certain things work, want a more realistic understandable basis for gaming. I was on a discord game last night playing Traveller and we had an industrial chemist playing a scientist (every GM's nightmare) and he needed a deeper level realism for his gaming experience to be better.

Trading these things off, where you go so deep that you have accurate shoe lace fashions versus very superficial detail, is the GM's art. 

Edited by ChalkLine
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4 hours ago, soltakss said:

That's about the only one that makes sense to me, as there seems to still be a difference in sizes between men and women. However, I wouldn't really use it in a game, unless someone asked for it for their PC.

Though he uses modern not bronze age human weights. In the iron age Romans commented on how large Celts were. Same thing was said about vikings. Both may have been propaganda Size of people varies on cultural background and early diet. Average height of Japanese has increased markedly since WW2.

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17 minutes ago, ajs said:

Though he uses modern not bronze age human weights. In the iron age Romans commented on how large Celts were. Same thing was said about vikings. Both may have been propaganda Size of people varies on cultural background and early diet. Average height of Japanese has increased markedly since WW2.

And between 500ad to 1500ad humans in western Europe become larger still and then contracted in size to a small point in the 1800s before increasing again to where we are now.

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