Discordant Thoughts

There are a couple of things I would like to write about this time.

The first is Marc’s Discord server. He has dropped the link on the ICE forums but that was a while ago so I thought I would repost it here.

Aby channel for discussion is better with more people involved.


The second thing I want to talk about was inspired by a couple of things that were said in the discord discussion. These were “not sure why everybody likes to use real life examples in rpg. This is a game, stuff is abstracted etc.” The rest I cannot directly quote as it was a longer discussion and it was more of a sentiment than any one explicit expression.

I want encapsulate it into ‘who owns the rules?’ So the situation was that the GM said that X situation was resolved using Y rule and the result was Z.

That would be fine apart from one or more players then said that they have real world experience of X and Y rule is wrong and Z wouldn’t happen.

Years ago, it seemed to me, the GM had the rules and what the GM said was the law and that was that. Today everyone can have a copy of the rules in PDF and check them at any time and if a ruling is not perfectly clear then they can question them.

The issue for gritty, simulationist, d100 games is that they are endeavouring to create a realistic game world experience. The game developers cannot have years of detailed experience of absolutely everything in life and you do not want 16million individual rules to accurately model everything. When you get a player or players with that real world experience they see the rule as written and recognise it as a poor model of reality.

So now you have a dilemma. The experienced players could house rule parts of the game to make it more accurate whilst still sitting within the RMu way of doing things but as GM do you want the players writing the rules of the game?

I had this recently in a game I am playing in. The GM wanted a very high magic game and picked all the RM2 optional rules that he thought would create the effect he wanted.

The result was that it all went too far towards everyone having too much magic too quickly. At 3rd level I have 12 spell lists and by about 7th level I would have had just about every spell open to me in my realm.

I had taken this opportunity to ignore the most obvious ‘go to’ lists in my realm and instead focused on learning the lists that normally get ignored as they are less useful or their utility is not immediately obvious.

Once the GM realised his error he told us all that he thought he had made a mistake and he was changing the rules.

His adjusted version was actually so restrictive that I thought he may have over reacted. It would certainly be the case that by about 8th level we would have no more lists than had we used the rules RAW. By 10th level though we would have less spells than RAW would have given us.

I know this to be the case because he has put certain limiting factors into the game and if they are to have any effect at all then they must limit our ability to learn lists. Any one of them would have been sufficient but their net effect is to dramatically reduce the ability of casters to learn magic.

For my character the effect is minimal and apart from a highly improbable situation where I fail every spell list acquisition roll for the next three levels it will have no noticeable effect. It will stop me learning the less useful and little used lists and make me stick to the tried and tested mainstays but no one else would notice that.

For other characters the effect will be dramatic and immediately obvious. If you take it all into account it is the same as changing the spell list cost for semis to 8/*. That is going to make learning lists rather expensive!

I emailed the GM and told him that for semis I thought his changes were too drastic and I showed him some examples. I don’t know what he has decided to do.

So is it OK for players to suggest rules changes? Who has ownership of the rules? If the rules are there to help everyone have fun and are really just guidelines should they all be up for negotiation?

My personal opinion, purely in theory at least, is that yes they are all negotiable but only before we start play. I dislike changing rules once the game has started as the amount of work for the GM to ‘fix’ hundreds of NPCs is rarely taken into account by players who only see the effect on their one PC.

What do you think?