The Rules


I’ve never been a stickler for the rules as written. Old School after all, they often did not make any sense. However there is one thing I have been a stickler for, my whole life.

That is the same rules for everyone, a level playing field. You can see were in life that would make me a touch on the progressive side, but this is not about politics. It is about role playing games. Slightly different.

As I see it, to metagame a bit here, no one has a bar over their head saying “PC, handle with care”. Likewise the Big Bad has no such bar. This goes for the chod fighters, the innkeeper and so forth. The in-game universe sees no difference. The same rules of physics apply to all.

One of my favorite memes is the stormtrooper with is head in his hands. “I had friends on that Death Star.” Too often the story runs roughshod over the NPCs that at the end of the day have lives and maybe families as well. The plot might run roughshod, but the rules never should. Nor, and this is important, should it favor them.

The game rules are the laws of physics for your game. They most likely break what laws of physics we have in real life, allowing for magic or super science. As such they should not favor anyone. No one has a bar over their heads. So no metagame rules that state the big bad gets different rules. Peasant or god, the same “laws” apply.

I consider this principle the first unbreakable rule of fair game mastery. It is how a fair and evenhanded game is run.

The game rules are an abstraction or a simulation of what is happening in the world. Games like D&D have stats for enemies comparable to PCs. But you don’t have to do that. While I haven’t really played them, more narrative games can focus on that style of gameplay. The enemy might be represented as a challenge number and not specific stats like PCs. If you don’t like it, that it is fine but it doesn’t mean that PCs are special in the world. It just means you are emulating that aspect of the world to make a fun game.

Even in games with enemy stats, plenty of GMs will fudge some accounting. They may not keep track of arrows. Or maybe the enemy returns with full hit points. How did he heal? Well it really doesn’t matter.

When is the last time you looked at D&D? Everything has stats. The big the small the great the tall. Everyone has stats.

I understand exactly what the rules are and what they are for. That is not a mystery. Not everything is of the same power level, but that does not mean it gets a speical set of rules.