[+] Rules light RPGs

Mezuka

Hero
Don't laugh @Mezuka, that's basically how Dave Arneson ran games, MAR Barker ran games (not the most ringing endorsement of late, to be sure), and Bob Meyer continues to run Blackmoor games.

Actually, I find this very clever. I'm not surprised Arneson did this.
 

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Sir Brennen

Legend
I have a feeling I would enjoy a rules light system. Unfortunately, with most RPGs there are a bunch of things I really like and a bunch of things I really don’t like. I may end up making some weird Frankenstein homebrew of BECMI and some other systems. I do like thinking about these things.
I think that's another big draw of rules light systems... they're usually very hackable allowing the GM to make them more in line with what they envision.
 


aia_2

Custom title
The interview is interesting, very interesting... The point is however the definition of rpg... You could have a "full storytelling game", even without a single roll of die and still call this rpg. This is a mere question of definition.

I don't want to be misunderstood: among storytelling and wargaming i am definitely prone to the first one but in any case i love some features like die checks, a bit of mechanics just not to fall into a total storytelling framework (which is closer to theatre rather than game).
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
From another thread...

Matt Mercer. “This is a testament to why I love playing with newer players. There’s a cycle I’m noticing, through the years of playing. Like a player cycle. When you first begin, you don’t know the boundaries that a lot of experienced players expect or understand. The more you know the game, the more you tend to, more often than not, stay within the confines of what the game establishes as the rules. When you’re new to it, you don’t really understand that so you take wider swings, you make stranger choices. You really kind of push against those boundaries because you don’t know where the boundaries are. You’re like a kid learning to how to walk for the first time and bumping into the furniture. And it’s wonderful, and eventually you kind of fall into those lines and not always, but sometimes you find yourself kind of subconsciously sticking, coloring within the lines because you’ve learned to do so. Then over time you begin to realize you’ve been doing that. And then you go back to being weird again. And that’s my other favorite point. It’s new players or extremely experienced players who have come back to reclaim their ‘stupid’ youth as players.”

That strikes me as very much a “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind” kinda thing. Try whatever. Don’t worry about the rules. They don’t really matter and they get in your way. Limit you, even if subconsciously. You’re playing a character who’s supposed to be a real person in a real place in a real situation. Have them do whatever you think they’d do in that situation. Not what the rules say you can do. And that’s why I love rules light games and FKR-style play. I don’t want there to be lines. I want to just color.

The bit I’m referencing is from this Critical Role video around the 1:05:30 mark.

 

Aldarc

Legend
That strikes me as very much a “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind” kinda thing. Try whatever. Don’t worry about the rules. They don’t really matter and they get in your way. Limit you, even if subconsciously. You’re playing a character who’s supposed to be a real person in a real place in a real situation. Have them do whatever you think they’d do in that situation. Not what the rules say you can do. And that’s why I love rules light games and FKR-style play. I don’t want there to be lines. I want to just color.
I agree with the overall point that new players tend to come with more open-ended expectations about what they can do. Where I am critical, however, is the idea that players in FKR are somehow free from forming such habits by the mere virtue of having less rules. My experiences suggest that players will still form such habits, albeit around the GM rather than the rules: hence "play referees, not rules." I'm already seeing such tendencies among the players, for example, in a B/X game that I'm partaking in. It's becoming less about playing in greater accordance to the written rules of the game and more about playing in greater accordance to the unwritten rules of the GM. It's seemingly trading one master for another.
 

aia_2

Custom title

From another thread...

Matt Mercer. “This is a testament to why I love playing with newer players. There’s a cycle I’m noticing, through the years of playing. Like a player cycle. When you first begin, you don’t know the boundaries that a lot of experienced players expect or understand. The more you know the game, the more you tend to, more often than not, stay within the confines of what the game establishes as the rules. When you’re new to it, you don’t really understand that so you take wider swings, you make stranger choices. You really kind of push against those boundaries because you don’t know where the boundaries are. You’re like a kid learning to how to walk for the first time and bumping into the furniture. And it’s wonderful, and eventually you kind of fall into those lines and not always, but sometimes you find yourself kind of subconsciously sticking, coloring within the lines because you’ve learned to do so. Then over time you begin to realize you’ve been doing that. And then you go back to being weird again. And that’s my other favorite point. It’s new players or extremely experienced players who have come back to reclaim their ‘stupid’ youth as players.”

That strikes me as very much a “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind” kinda thing. Try whatever. Don’t worry about the rules. They don’t really matter and they get in your way. Limit you, even if subconsciously. You’re playing a character who’s supposed to be a real person in a real place in a real situation. Have them do whatever you think they’d do in that situation. Not what the rules say you can do. And that’s why I love rules light games and FKR-style play. I don’t want there to be lines. I want to just color.
Great great great comment! I have to bookmark it somehow!
This is one of the key features i want to preserve and ideally extend over time in the game i have written... I hope I found a way to prolong this status of "looking at the world with the eyes of a child", or i hope so.
Where is the quote from? Why this topic has been discussed? I am highly interested in this discussion...
This is one of the three reasons i decided to write my own RPG!
 

I agree with the overall point that new players tend to come with more open-ended expectations about what they can do. Where I am critical, however, is the idea that players in FKR are somehow free from forming such habits by the mere virtue of having less rules. My experiences suggest that players will still form such habits, albeit around the GM rather than the rules: hence "play referees, not rules." I'm already seeing such tendencies among the players, for example, in a B/X game that I'm partaking in. It's becoming less about playing in greater accordance to the written rules of the game and more about playing in greater accordance to the unwritten rules of the GM. It's seemingly trading one master for another.
I think this is a feature not a bug for this playstyle. The referee is “playing the world,” and responsible for all the fiction that entails. The idea is that a human person can be more flexible and dynamic than a rule system in fulfilling that role.

That said, I think this style of play could use referee and player principles and and procedures, much like what other games have. OSR advice—rulings not rules, answer is not on character sheet, etc—is a good start, but could be elaborated upon to give guidance as to how a “ruling” ought to be made, and if/how the players can participate in that action.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
I think this is a feature not a bug for this playstyle. The referee is “playing the world,” and responsible for all the fiction that entails. The idea is that a human person can be more flexible and dynamic than a rule system in fulfilling that role.
Absolutely.
That said, I think this style of play could use referee and player principles and and procedures, much like what other games have. OSR advice—rulings not rules, answer is not on character sheet, etc—is a good start, but could be elaborated upon to give guidance as to how a “ruling” ought to be made, and if/how the players can participate in that action.
Exactly. Every referee is different, every game is different, every genre is different, and every table is different. You make those calls based on what you and your group are going for. Realism in a historical game. Genre emulation in a superhero game. Cinematic tone for a one shot.

But yeah, it’s something talked about in the community. Principles and the reasons for making this call instead of that. FKR referees don’t have a problem answering questions as to why. That’s part of the trusting playstyle. Don’t argue about a call, but if you want to know, the referee should be able and willing to tell you why they decided how they did.
 
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Aldarc

Legend
I think this is a feature not a bug for this playstyle. The referee is “playing the world,” and responsible for all the fiction that entails. The idea is that a human person can be more flexible and dynamic than a rule system in fulfilling that role.

That said, I think this style of play could use referee and player principles and and procedures, much like what other games have. OSR advice—rulings not rules, answer is not on character sheet, etc—is a good start, but could be elaborated upon to give guidance as to how a “ruling” ought to be made, and if/how the players can participate in that action.
Okay, I'm familiar with these talking points already, but this really doesn't address my main point about how FKR is not necessarily free from players growing into more play-limiting habit formations as a result of their play experiences with a referee rather than rules. This is to say my gut reaction to the promotion of "exceptionalism" regarding any field, fanbase, or community is critical skepticism, as it rarely if ever holds up to scrutiny.
 

Okay, I'm familiar with these talking points already, but this really doesn't address my main point about how FKR is not necessarily free from players growing into more play-limiting habit formations as a result of their play experiences with a referee rather than rules. This is to say my gut reaction to the promotion of "exceptionalism" regarding any field, fanbase, or community is critical skepticism, as it rarely if ever holds up to scrutiny.
I don’t think rules lite games are “better” in some abstract sense, but rather is a potential benefit to certain gm and player types. FKR in particular seems to take the principles of the OSR (as in Finch’s primer and the Principia Apocrapha) to their furthest extent.

I personally don’t necessarily have a problem with a rules-medium game, except that I’m usually the one at the table that knows the rules best thus which is tedious. Also tedious is the 1001 minute differences among OSR rulesets; just pick one and go. Whether you have 6 stats or 4 or 3 in your booklet OSR game is not going to actually matter that much in play.
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
1. What is a rules light exactly? A system which covers many details of the game with plain and easy to play rules or a system which does not cover many aspects of the game? In a nutshell: the lightness is in the learning by heart or in reading fastly because there is not so much to read?
I was going to say that rules-light is having fewer rules (or perceived complexity) than D&D (any edition), but more rules than a board game. Then I looked up the Monopoly rules. If you added fluff to the Monopoly rules, you'd have a book that some would call rules-medium.
I've only gotten into rule light games just this year, and that's after almost 40 years of gaming. . .
Welcome to the Dark Side!

One of my favorite rules-light games is Microlite 20. I'm definitely pitching it to the next DM who asks me to try D&D. Note that the rules seem to be written in a 3e mindset, so you should speak D&Dese if you want to run M20 smoothly. Also, the character sheets (stat blocks to some of you) are blissfully short and sweet.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
Any other favorite rules light games people want to talk about or recommend?
I have had to run a RPG several time for children or beginners who really needed a "rules light" game. But instead of learning a different game, I have always just resorted to simplify D&D on the fly. I did this back in 3e and then again in 5e, which feels much easier to simplify. I just restrict character options and/or use pregenerated characters, and ignore some entire rules areas until I feel the result is simple enough for the current group. Knowing D&D quite well, this is much easier and faster for me than trying to find another game.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
I don’t think rules lite games are “better” in some abstract sense, but rather is a potential benefit to certain gm and player types.
I think they're better for particular things, but not better in a broad "these are good, everything else is bad" sense. They're a tool in the toolbox. Use what you need, discard the rest.
I personally don’t necessarily have a problem with a rules-medium game, except that I’m usually the one at the table that knows the rules best thus which is tedious.
In a weird way, most people in FKR circles are the same way. They tend to be game hounds. Not just collectors but avid players of many systems with many levels of crunch. But, importantly, they don't see the rules or RAW as somehow holy. They have no trouble pulling games apart, hacking them, putting them back together just to see what happens. They're so familiar with the rules of so many games they realize that a whole lot of mechanics are smoke and mirrors. People who like solid mechanics object, but it's still true. So rather than deal with the smoke and mirrors, cut that out and get down to playing.
Also tedious is the 1001 minute differences among OSR rulesets; just pick one and go. Whether you have 6 stats or 4 or 3 in your booklet OSR game is not going to actually matter that much in play.
Exactly. Now zoom out on that to encompass all RPGs. It all comes down to describing your character's action, possibly using a randomizer, and having the referee describe the outcome. It doesn't really matter what system you're using (if any), it's all a conversation between the players and the referee and the occasional randomizer.
One of my favorite rules-light games is Microlite 20. I'm definitely pitching it to the next DM who asks me to try D&D. Note that the rules seem to be written in a 3e mindset, so you should speak D&Dese if you want to run M20 smoothly. Also, the character sheets (stat blocks to some of you) are blissfully short and sweet.
I remember hearing about that before but it slipped my mind. Thanks for the reminder.
I have had to run a RPG several time for children or beginners who really needed a "rules light" game. But instead of learning a different game, I have always just resorted to simplify D&D on the fly. I did this back in 3e and then again in 5e, which feels much easier to simplify. I just restrict character options and/or use pregenerated characters, and ignore some entire rules areas until I feel the result is simple enough for the current group. Knowing D&D quite well, this is much easier and faster for me than trying to find another game.
I started my kid super-young with RPGs. We played with a badly drawn map on a dry erase board, a few minis, and Fate dice. The rules didn't matter. We just played. Instead of it being cops and robbers ("I shot you!" "No you didn't!") the dice resolved any questions. It's some of the best gaming I've ever had. Cheers, laughing, creative problem solving.
 

pemerton

Legend
Take, for example, Cthulhu Dark. If you approach this from a Trad way, as a simplified, GM-driven engine to resolve play, GM overhead will be high. If, on the other hand, you take the game and go for a Story Now approach, then GM overhead is reduced significantly.
Agreed. GMing Cthulhu Dark is easier than GMing (say) 4e D&D. There's no need for stat blocks, for instance. And there are very few rules to adjudicate.

The rules of an RPG give the players that ability to successfully judge the stakes for the play. If you take that away, especially if you replace it with the GM, then its harder to predict those stakes and make good decisions. Again, this really comes down to a culture of play issue -- if you're Trad or Neotrad, this is less of a burden because play is still focused on exploration of the GM's setting or story so stakes are communicated as needed for those moments. It's anathema to gamist play, which is why you don't see gamist rules-light systems very often (and I can't immediately bring one to mind).
The lightest game I can think of, intended for gamist RPGing, is T&T. But it still needs the GM to map and key a dungeon.

This is probably more my ignorance, though, than a fair account of gamist rules-light RPGs.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Speaking of rules-light gaming, Professor Dungeon Master just posted this quick video.

The complete rules to rules-light D&D.

 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
My favorite "Rules Lite" RPG: Dread. I am always down for a game.
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Why do people say PbTA is rules light.
Ok so the basic mechanics are but running/playing is not " lite", it is one of the few RPGs you can play wrong.

Is there a term, and the modern world loves giving new made up words to describe stuff; an RPG that.

"This game has simple mechanics but so much other stuff going on it can feel heavy".

Ta
 

aramis erak

Legend
Why do people say PbTA is rules light.
Ok so the basic mechanics are but running/playing is not " lite", it is one of the few RPGs you can play wrong.

Is there a term, and the modern world loves giving new made up words to describe stuff; an RPG that.

"This game has simple mechanics but so much other stuff going on it can feel heavy".

Ta
Cruchy. Lite but very crunchy.
 


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