Rules Aren't Important

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
It’s always interesting to me to see the overlap between OSR/Old School DMs (given previous discussion here and your tagline) and PBtA/FitD GMs. Feels like the old and new school should get along well, it’s just the mid-school like modern DnD that feels like it’s own thing.

A person would think that, wouldn't they!

And yet, they would be wrong. So very, very wrong.

OSR/FKR and PBtA/FitQ is kinda like the People's Front of Idea and the Judean People's Front. From the outside, no one is really sure what the argument is about, but we are quite sure that there isn argument and we will not let those SPLITTISTS get the better of us!

Meanwhile, modern D&D players are the Romans ... they don't even know that it's a thing, and to the extent that they do know, don't care.

NO. REALLY. LISTEN TO ME 5e MASSES! THESE DIFFERENCES MATTER!!!!!

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Windrunner

Explorer
Overgeeked wins on points under the "internet rules" :) -- Sorry, that was snarky.

But, I really don't have time and interest in going point by point and don't see a reason.

I have DM'ed weekly groups, one-shots, tourneys, and the feedback I get from players enjoying my style and having a framework that gives them a playing ground to have fun. And I have seen them do some wonderfully creative and cool moves within that framework that I will always remember. We still talk about moves from years ago and the fun we had! And I firmly believe none of those memories would have been possible without the framework. Not saying this is the ONLY way, but after seeing lots of tables, I believe this works best.

Finally, I would hope one day I could see a respectful discussion on topics like this that avoids strawmen. Whether it is claiming one side is saying no rules, or bringing up silly things like once seeing an hour-long rules lawyer argument to claim the other side is proposing no fun ever. We really should be more respectful. And we should be careful about pulling quotes out of context. I could probably take five minutes and come up with, for example, a long list where Mercer used the rules to limit what the players wanted to do, and they accepted it without rules-lawyering or ruining the game. And I don't think that would help a USEFUL discussion about a game we all seem to love.

I hope Overgeeked and his players have fun at their table and a great gaming experience!

But I also say, without trying to be negative towards him, I don't want to ever again play at a table like that.
 


Reynard

Legend
Not unless they know what the rules say the ogre represents.
Not necessarily. There are many games that don't define things like "the ogre" with a set of numbers in various categories. For example, if I were running a adventure focused Forged in the Dark game, the ogre would just be a clock. The only "rule" regarding the ogre is that you need to get past him. Maybe you fight. Maybe you offer him pie.it doesn't matter. Hit points and armor class aren't a thing.

There are still rules of course: what a clock is, how PCs roll dice to reduce the clock, etc. But it's not an issue of there being some mechanically defined "ogre" that has to be defeated in a certain way. It's just an obstacle of some arbitrary difficulty and threat.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
Agree...and it's a lot to keep track of! Judging of online discussion, I think one of the possible fail points when you start playing blades is that there are all these clever rules and they work together really well, but trying to manage that all at once is overwhelming and the game can become overly procedural. Like, the fact that it is table facing is less meaningful if the GM is the only one who has put the time into reading the book or if there is too much information for the GM and/or players to keep in mind at any one time. That said, I think you can forget a lot of those rules and still have a good time (when I started playing we often forgot very basic things like resistance rolls and group actions).
I’ve played in FitD games where the players didn’t know the rules very well and where we did. While the former was fun at times, there’s another dimension that’s enabled when everyone is really using the system. Resistance is important in particular because it allows the GM to hit hard with consequences (as appropriate, of course). Especially in a game like Blades with master-level threats that start you out on the back foot (immediate consequence, resist or take it).
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Not necessarily. There are many games that don't define things like "the ogre" with a set of numbers in various categories. For example, if I were running a adventure focused Forged in the Dark game, the ogre would just be a clock. The only "rule" regarding the ogre is that you need to get past him. Maybe you fight. Maybe you offer him pie.it doesn't matter. Hit points and armor class aren't a thing.

There are still rules of course: what a clock is, how PCs roll dice to reduce the clock, etc. But it's not an issue of there being some mechanically defined "ogre" that has to be defeated in a certain way. It's just an obstacle of some arbitrary difficulty and threat.
Right. So much easier. You have a set rule and it roughly works the same as the dozens of pages of D&D combat rules…only shorter, smoother, less page count, and more universally applicable. D&D 5E would be so much easier if instead of set stat blocks and silliness like CR and damage per round calculations they just used clocks.
 

Reynard

Legend
Right. So much easier. You have a set rule and it roughly works the same as the dozens of pages of D&D combat rules…only shorter, smoother, less page count, and more universally applicable. D&D 5E would be so much easier if instead of set stat blocks and silliness like CR and damage per round calculations they just used clocks.
One of the reasons I like Savage Worlds so much is that while it isn't as simple as clocks, it is much, much simpler than games like 5E.

Plus swingy randomness, which I consider the soul of RPGs. If I knew what I wanted to have happen as GM, I would have written a story. Gimme weird die rolls to have have to interpret all day long.
 

Agree...and it's a lot to keep track of! Judging of online discussion, I think one of the possible fail points when you start playing blades is that there are all these clever rules and they work together really well, but trying to manage that all at once is overwhelming and the game can become overly procedural. Like, the fact that it is table facing is less meaningful if the GM is the only one who has put the time into reading the book or if there is too much information for the GM and/or players to keep in mind at any one time. That said, I think you can forget a lot of those rules and still have a good time (when I started playing we often forgot very basic things like resistance rolls and group actions).

I agree.

I’ve played in FitD games where the players didn’t know the rules very well and where we did. While the former was fun at times, there’s another dimension that’s enabled when everyone is really using the system. Resistance is important in particular because it allows the GM to hit hard with consequences (as appropriate, of course). Especially in a game like Blades with master-level threats that start you out on the back foot (immediate consequence, resist or take it).

And I also agree with this!

And these posts and my agreement with them are about rules being important.

Blades in the Dark is a significantly better game when the players have (a) onboarded the rules paradigm, (b) consistently observe the Best Practices, and (c) consistently understand and apply the game's meta. All of these things equally apply to GMing. When both players and GM do all the things (!) play is enriched for it while not doing all the things (!) equals a Blades in the Dark play experience that suffers by comparison. if you don't know them and aren't applying them consistently and skillfully, then you're effectively playing a different ruleset than if you were (and the former "ruleset" demonstrably creates a worse experience than the latter "ruleset"; the actual one).
 
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I agree.



And I also agree with this!

And these posts and my agreement with them are about rules being important.

Blades in the Dark is a significantly better game when the players have (a) onboarded the rules paradigm, (b) consistently observe the Best Practices, and (c) consistently understand and apply the game's meta. All of these things equally apply to GMing. When both players and GM do all the things (!) play is enriched for it while not doing all the things (!) equals a Blades in the Dark play experience that suffers by comparison. if you don't know them and aren't applying them consistently and skillfully, then you're effectively playing a different ruleset than if you were (and the former "ruleset" demonstrably creates a worse experience than the latter "ruleset"; the actual one).

It's a deceptively high buy-in for a game that styles itself as fiction first. I feel like it's possible to run a blades game that is efficient without actually being fun. I do like some of the rules lite games that it has inspired, like Trophy and Messerspiel.
 

It's a deceptively high buy-in for a game that styles itself as fiction first. I feel like it's possible to run a blades game that is efficient without actually being fun. I do like some of the rules lite games that it has inspired, like Trophy and Messerspiel.

Absolutely, but you have to append degenerate to that formulation. A hyper-efficiently run Blades in the Dark game that is neither fiction first nor thematically/tactically/strategically dynamic and potent is a degenerate running of the game that fails to integrate some or a heap of the GM's Goals, Principles, and Best Practices.

I certainly like running games that are more rules-lite than Blades in the Dark. But while I enjoyed the hyper-lite Lasers & Feelings, there is absolutely something lost when going from Apocalypse World (more rules dense though relatively easy to grok conceptually imo) to it or other hyper-lite PBtA hacks.
 

MGibster

Legend
Exactly. It’s like people forget their first few games where anything goes and everyone has a blast regardless of the rules. Instead what we get is people acting like their fond memories are of flipping through the book making sure all the Ts are crossed and Is dotted.
My favorite game isn't Ledgers & Charts for no reason.
 







Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
A clock in Blades isn't some completely abstract thing with no mechanics attached. The players have a lot of leeway about how to approach the problem (the clock) but it's mechanically defined. It's always X roll with Y success reduces the clock by Z.
 

Reynard

Legend
A clock in Blades isn't some completely abstract thing with no mechanics attached. The players have a lot of leeway about how to approach the problem (the clock) but it's mechanically defined. It's always X roll with Y success reduces the clock by Z.
But does it matter? Does it actually matter in play whether the ogre is a clock or is a bag of hit points? I don't think it does, except insofar the bag of hit points has a more narrowly defined set of applicable mechanically discrete PC abities that can be leveraged. Which really just shrinks the game. But otherwise, it's still some re that says some number of appropriately high dice rolls overcome the obstacle. So from that perspective @overgeeked is right: the (specific) rules don't actually matter.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
But does it matter? Does it actually matter in play whether the ogre is a clock or is a bag of hit points? I don't think it does, except insofar the bag of hit points has a more narrowly defined set of applicable mechanically discrete PC abities that can be leveraged. Which really just shrinks the game. But otherwise, it's still some re that says some number of appropriately high dice rolls overcome the obstacle. So from that perspective @overgeeked is right: the (specific) rules don't actually matter.
Of course it doesn't. I was just saying it is mechanically defined. (y)
 

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