Thursday, April 30, 2015

Good rules

Ron Edwards writes a lot. Sometimes, amidst heaps and heaps of words, he comes up with the best, most straightforward statements of role-playing truths. Here's one:
That by the way is a lesson my fellow role-players seem reluctant to grasp: that good rules are not there to prevent bad play but to enable good play, and that sometimes, the decisions of the moment may not be all that great – just as in any art form […]
(from this post about superpowers in Champions 1st-3rd edition, in Ron's Doctor Xaos comics madness blog.)

Well put! I'm quoting this because I think it's hugely important:

Good rules are not there to prevent bad play but to enable good play.


And my own experience agrees with Ron's here: far too often, "role-players" don't seem to get this point, and trite arguments about how you can "fix" a game/behavior/player by keeping them in check with rules come up over and over and over. F'rex, by far the most common piece of feedback you get from playtesters is: "Hey, I noticed that one (not me!) could possibly ruin the game by doing this and that, and the rules-as-written won't stop them from doing so." Except that's not what I design rule-sets for (and not only 'cause, frankly, no rules tome will ever be thick enough to list all the "don't"s for a role-playing game)…

Remember: the purpose of good rules it to enable good play.

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