This is true! But I did intend my account of my own relationship to those things to illustrate a more general point - that I don't think "canon" and "official" are necessary to have a common language to discuss RPGing. As I tried to bring out in my discussion with @Chaosmancer, shared knowledge of published materials tends to do that job.Thankfully my point that I am trying to make is not dependent on pemerton's relationship to either "canon" or "official."
This is true! But I did intend my account of my own relationship to those things to illustrate a more general point - that I don't think "canon" and "official" are necessary to have a common language to discuss RPGing. As I tried to bring out in my discussion with @Chaosmancer, shared knowledge of published materials tends to do that job.
It's many years since I spent any time there, but a RPG site that I think illustrated this point was the ICE site. There is practically no such thing as "official" Rolemaster, given that historically the publication model is mostly the offering of optional rules modules. And even when it comes to settings, there have been enough reprints and do-overs that "canon" doesn't have that much purchase.
I think the function of "canon" and "official" in D&D culture is more closely connected to notions of identity and authenticity than to possibilities of successful communication.
I agree that the ideas of more closely connected to identity and authenticity. But, unlike Rolemaster, DnD and most RPGs have publication models that are more... static? Most RPGs have a single book of rules, then supplements. DnD has the Core Three. The official material is easily recognizable and generally where most people start learning about the system. And that becomes the basis for the language that then gets used in supplemental materials, be they 3rd party or not.
Edit: To put a bit of a fine point on it. Nothing created for 3.5 makes sense in the context of 4e, without trying to convert it. And even between 3.5 and 5e, there is a lot that doesn't translate well. You generally can't pick up something made for a different edition and just run it as written, because it isn't using the same "language" or expectations.
Chaosium was just house ruled DnD with a percentile skill system and is one of the most successful game companies out there. The concept of a roleplaying game took an incredibly talented and created person to discover, but once revealed even 11 year olds get the game and run it.
I think that is one reason why I have heard so often from game designers nowadays that game designers shouldn't just run the game they created, but also play the games and have other people run them as well as other tables and groups. You don't necessarily know how much of an RPG is the system or the designer/GM who is doing the heavy sustain work.
My impression was that the Conventions (which WERE D&D house rules) were one of the foundational texts for design of the RQ combat system. Which makes sense.I suspect strongly you're conflating the RQ design with Steve Perrin's (at one time) well known D&D conventions, but they only have the kind of passing relationship you're liable to get with any common designs by the same person.
My impression was that the Conventions (which WERE D&D house rules) were one of the foundational texts for design of the RQ combat system. Which makes sense.
That being said, of course RQ is a lot more than some combat rules.
This is all true, and fair, but I think that there is a fundamental distinction between talking about RPGs (such as we are doing here), and playing RPGs.
It's perfectly possible to play an RPG without having a shared language that requires discussion on a forum. Moreover, I think the entire point of many rules-light systems is to concentrate on playing, instead of those extraneous discussion.
Again, I think too many of these conversations come from a position of one-upmanship; the need to defend (or attack) a mode of play. But it shouldn't be that way! There are advantages to systems that rely on more rules, and advantages to systems that rely on less. I think that many people who play for long periods of time likely experience both, and enjoy both at different times.
Personally, I think it was fascinating that we have an OSR-offshoot (Worlds Not Rules, or FKR) that is looking back not just at rules-lite, but at purely minimalist rulesets. But the beauty of the hobby is that it can, and should, support a multiplicity of play options.
Its one reason I think a lot of problems with published games is inadequate (and to be fair, its difficult and expensive to do this right) playtesting and usually nonexistent blindtesting. Even having people with associated groups running the game is no substitute, as they may have a similar game culture and set of expectations that won't translate to a random purchaser of the game.
To put a more specific point on this, I own a game I have never played (was never able to get a group) called OVA. In reading the rules I saw one or two abilities that could be heavily exploited to make insanely powerful characters. The game had a forum, and I went there to make sure I hadn't misunderstood the abilities.
The designer told me they were aware, but didn't consider a problem because we could just ask players not to exploit the rules for their own gain.
Very different gaming culture compared to what I'm used to here.
Which is one of the central problems of the "leave it to the table to figure out." Players will naturally read the materials available to them, and while some will always make choices without meaningful regard to their utility, most will at least consider utility as part of making their mechanical choices. It is frankly foolish to expect players to never ever consider the mechanical impact of these choices (in 5e, things like class/subclass and race, spell selection, feats vs ASIs, etc.); even for players that consistently prioritize theme/flavor/concept over utility, there will almost certainly be near-equally-flavorful options at some points, and why would one choose the weaker of the two options if both produce good story of essentially equal quality?Yup. I saw some of this same sort of thing in the playtest for Silver Age Sentinels back in the day, where the designer's tendency to ad-hoc things personally colored how much he cared about vagueness in the rules, too.
But it can have even more subtle impact than that; the classic that's relevant here is how much some of the D&D 3e designers expected people to run games with it like they were playing 2e, rather than like what it seemed to imply mechanically, and then were startled (and misfired in some of their early adventures) when they didn't.
Would you care to post your own RPG?