D&D General How to Read a Rule: Dueling Canons in D&D


Since you have to start with the original rule, you'd go with the surplusage canon; it's not going to be extraneous.
And the Bard, once becoming a Bard, is no longer part of the 2C Rule. Same reason that you can't use the rule to add a third class.
Depends, is the whole of the bard progression one singular bard class at every stage?

The complex rules for 1e bards are not completely unambiguous.

log in or register to remove this ad


And RaW was hardly a thing back in the day. ;) All rules being open to interpretation. Rules was all house rules - now, when you explicitly changed or/and made stuff up, them's Variants...
There was plenty of referencing to specific rules passages and exact wording in the books in the 1e era in my experience. A number of people tried to figure out the rules from the written rules.

Groups varied widely but rules lawyering and analysis of RAW did not start in 3e.


Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
There was plenty of referencing to specific rules passages and exact wording in the books in the 1e era in my experience. A number of people tried to figure out the rules from the written rules.

Groups varied widely but rules lawyering and analysis of RAW did not start in 3e.
Agreed. Gary was trying to nail down the grey areas and turn an "open system", or "non-game" as he even once called it, into a "closed system", more suitable for fair and consistent tournament adjudication across tables and geographic regions. Which is part of why Dragon made Sage Advice official, to give clarifications which could be relied upon at competitive tournaments.

Unfortunately the editing and writing on 1E was a trainwreck in a lot of places, so it was hard as heck, and in some places literally impossible (hello BtB initiative) to play RAW. Despite that, it was the official line from TSR that it was possible and expected, and there are still 1E diehards out who claim that it is.

Tony Vargas

Rules Lawyering goes all the way back, sure, but it was making a case to the Judge (DM) and angling for a favorable ruling, not counting on there being a single nigh-universal agreed-upon reading of the rules. (And, "rules lawyer" tended to be sneering criticism, not praise.)
And I definitely don't feel there was even veiled contempt for "House Rules" (only ever saw that in Hoyle, prior to 3e) let alone Variants (the term I do recall hearing) back in the day, either.

Obsession with RaW became a big, community-wide thing only with 3.0

Going back and approaching old school D&D with that attitude isn't wrong, it's just a bit ironic.
Ultimately, when we analyze or judge a game, the text is the only objective representation and conclusions (like, well, AD&D rules were a conflicting mess) of that analysis are valid.
But we can miss the zeitgeist that surrounded the game, and thus the experience of playing it back in the day. (Nevermind the rose-coloured memories of that experience). And, by the same token, even veiled contempt for those experiences is unwarranted.


Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
That would work, except for the three classes that lack a prime requisite of any kind (Illusionist, Assassin, and Monk).

I think the house rule would have to be, "Replace principal attribute(s) with prime requisite(s), and if a class lacks prime requisites, then all required minimum ability scores are the prime requisites."
All three perhaps coincidentally left out of the 2E PH (well, Illusionist retained as one type of Specialist Wizard).

I could also see ruling "if the class lacks prime requisites, it is not eligible for dual-classing".


I find a lot of legal analysis techniques directly applicable to game rules analysis.

Textual analysis, looking at things holistically, figuring out what is the applicable rule versus just description/dicta, etc.

I found 1e rules analysis a helpful background when I went to law school. :)


I feel like there's a step missing in all of this. Which is figuring out the question of "why does this rule exist in the game." Either from a mechanical point of view (what purpose it's trying to serve in the game) or from a historic point of view (as in why Gygax needed to hack this rule into his system in the first place). If you can't answer that question then it feels like the rest of the analysis is just going to be an exercise in close reading of the text and arguing your point rather than getting to something useful.

The purpose dual-classing serves to me seems to be a "solution" to the problem that we now identify as the linear fighter/quadratic wizard. As in once a player hit a certain level with their fighter they might realize "oh, I want to be a wizard now because that's where the power game is" without having to restart the game with a completely new character. In a game where your character was directing a small army of henchmen to do the actual work, your mid-level fighter could use their existing treasure to take some time off to let the underlings do the work while they hang back and cast their Magic Missile a few times each day. With the way XP worked you'd pretty quickly get your MU level up to your Fighter level and then be able to move on as a MU. If you're not playing the game that way, then this rule seems awkward and weird because it doesn't seem to match anything out of the fantasy source material. But if you are playing the game that way it makes perfect sense - even the rule of not letting you cast spells while wearing armor makes sense in that perspective.

Meanwhile to me the multi-classing rules for demihumans look to me like an attempt to solve the problems brought on by level caps without getting rid of level caps. Since you have to split your XP between different classes it slows the demihuman advancement down so they don't hit the level caps as quickly as the human fighters and MUs they're adventuring with by exchanging more power for more breadth.


Guest 7042500

What is an adventure?

From when you leave home until you return home, or any place you can rest. And not camping overnight; resting for a prolinged time in a safe place - your home, an inn, a castle. Essentially any place you could regain HP through rest. That's how Gary played it.


Follower of the Way
NGL, I find the reference to "due process" deeply troubling.

If applying laws with incredible impact on my personal life is as difficult and completely opaque as this, we are all screwed. So I hold, or perhaps rather hope, that the comparison is weak at best. Due process does not seem to be this squishy mess that nobody knows how to figure out and each courtroom redefines every session. It seems to be something generally understood. That something is contextual does not mean it is beyond useful definition.

Voidrunner's Codex

Remove ads