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Monday, April 14, 2014

How much can a game bend before it's not the same game anymore?

Let’s talk about rules in Role playing games.
Who uses all of them? 

I have heard of rules lawyers but I’m not sure I have ever actually met one. What I mean is I’m not sure I have ever met anyone who wants to use all of the rules found in many role playing games.  More to the point,   I’m not sure someone who wants to play by the letter of the rules manual would enjoy their time at the table when I am running a game.  I skip to much stuff.
I am going to assume that I am not alone in this practice of just leaving out things that I find extraneous or just annoying. So while I understand that “system does matter” to what degree does it matter that we hack the hell out of the games we play?

I have been running an AD&D 2nd ed game over roll 20 for a couple of months now. The players made characters; we have them embroiled in a few story lines everything is going swimmingly. First off There have been a few games where they have even rolled more than once or twice in a game. This comes down to the clod truth that I rarely use reaction rolls, intimidate of checks for things like social interactions. I know it’s in the rules, but I like to wing it and let the players Role play their way through social situations even tricky ones, before I fall back to rolling dice.  For example at one point a large group of Orcs showed up on the outskirts of their city asking for asylum as they were on the run from an Orc chieftain who was unifying the orc tribes in the mountains and killing off any group that resisted.

The party went to the Steward of the city, the chief if you will, and spoke on behalf of the fleeing orcs.
It was a heated conversation as the Steward was not happy about orcs at the gates, and the orc representative did not like being spoken down too. The player groups Druid handled things well and the  Steward struck a deal where the Orcs could sue some recently abandon farmland outside the gates, until they could move on.  No roles were needed we played it out. I must have ignored  a ton of chances for reaction checks, charisma rolls, and  skill checks.

In another instance the players dwarf fighter was fighting a troll and the troll was getting the best of him.  The troll rolled a natural 20 which in my game means something bad happens, I ignore the 2nd ed critical rule whatever it may be, and natural 20’s are crits, either double damage or an extra attack or some other special effect.

I knew the fighter had been knocked around pretty well so I asked him to roll a saving throw Vs Penalization thinking when he failed the save The troll would pick him up by the face bang his head against a pipe for some extra damage and leave him stunned for the next round. Sounds cool right? Well none of that is in the rules. What occurred was the Dwarf’s player rolled a 20 of his own on the saving throw. I let him escape the Critical all together. Again not in the rules but hell he trumped the 20 with one of his own, why not right?
This is not really about how I run my games , I know that’s different from person to person, but how much of a game can be hacked around and or left out until it’s no longer the same game anymore?

Do I even say “we play ad&D 2nd edition on Saturday nights” if we really only play about half the rules?
When I play test the game is work on if we’re not using a function or a rule I take a look at it and if I can’t find any reason why I should keep it, I just hack it out, that’s part of the design process. However if I do that continuously to someone else’s game should I try a different game? Or just keep going because that’s how we do?

So To the good reader I put fourth these questions.
  • How much house ruling do you do?
  • How much of any particular game do you just leave out completely?
  • And finally, how much tinkering and editing can a game take in your opinion before it’s not the same game anymore?


Thanks for reading, and question comments or answers can be dropped into hermetically sealed mayo jars and left on the sunny side of the comments section to ripen.