Wednesday, June 13, 2012

D&D Next: Rule Complexity Arguments are Bunk, Or the Currency of Rules/Ideas

I do not seek Less is More or More is Better... All I seek is Clarity of Rules and Definition.  See why.

After receiving a G+ message and viewing the resultant post over on Tenkar's Tavern I must say I have become tired of rules complexity arguments.  It seems that we live in a world where the complexity of rules is a bad thing... And I agree with that.  However, I also believe that a completely bare-bones system can affect the ability for a game to be playable and transferable.

The state of play in any given campaign is affected by numerous unforeseen circumstances. House Rules, kludges from other systems, rewards systems, treasure levels, and a thousand other variations can alter your favorite character into an unrecognizable beast at your local FLGS, or at a convention where you may want to tag into a new game.

So what would be my 'perfect rules'?  I want a rules system that clears up as many possible rules issues requiring interpretation as possible, and that gives us a clear terminology to work with when dealing with rules.  And I believe that most 'bare-bones' rules that attempt to cover the fantasy genre can fall flat on this idea.

A Dungeon Master serves as a referee, but what if the rules aren't clear for the referee?  Well, the NBA deals with this sort of issue in a form you may find familiar.  Here's a link to the NBA standard rules (revised).   Check it out... I'll wait.

Lots of rules for a game consisting of running down a court and throwing a ball in a hoop, right?  Well, basketball is a competitive game made by multiple players in a field attempting to produce a result against opposition.  Oh, and here's the NBA Case Book.  Again, go check it out... I'll wait.

Notice anything familiar?  Yep, the NBA has its own Sage Advice for answers on specific rules that seem, on first blush, quite clear... And these are the defined policies of the National Basketball Association.  When the rules aren't followed things get hectic.. And in some cases those referees fail.  And there is quite a hubbub about it.

A DM serves as a single point of interpretation for rules, and that can cause an issue as one DM's interpretations will be completely different from another.  Just check out any DM thread on or ENWorld and you will see 10 interpretations on 9 posts.

So I want a stronger interpretative base, and a clearly defined series of terminology that we can use to discuss the game.  Monte Cook discusses the need for such a language, but when dealing with the average gamer I found a sort of survivalist air to their dealings with their Game of Choice.  Every DM is judge, jury, and executioner of any rules they receive... And there's nothing wrong with this.  But when you warp the rules in such a way that they become difficult to revert back to the Rules as Written in a specific game?  Well, we have issues.

I love the seeking for a common thread in the DND Next playtest material.  While some complain that it is not 100% one version or another of the DND they love, I really just want a passing grade across a majority of editions.  If I can get the feel that the game is 70% of the way to B/X, 3.X, and 4e?  Well, you have learned to square the circle gentlemen.  Bravo.

As Always,

Good Gaming.